April consumer sentiment: 89.7 vs. 92 expected

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Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

Consumers are feeling less optimistic than expected so far this month as job prospects and the upcoming election weighed, according to preliminary data released Friday.

The Index of Consumer sentiment hit 89.7 in April, according to the University of Michigan. Analysts expected the consumer sentiment index to hit 92 in April, up from March's final reading of 91, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates.

It marks the fourth consecutive monthly decline, the report said.

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"Consumers reported a slowdown in expected wage gains, weakening inflation-adjusted income expectations, and growing concerns that slowing economic growth would reduce the pace of job creation," said Richard Curtin, the chief economist of the survey. "These apprehensions should ease as the economy rebounds from its dismal start in the first quarter of 2016."

Nonetheless, Jefferies analyst Ward McCarthy called the modest dip "discouraging," noting that respondents were more concerned about government's effect on business than any time since the Fiscal Cliff era.

"Despite there being no specific question about the election on the April survey, about 20 percent of respondents said that they expected that the election results would impact government policies that would result in negative economic outcomes," McCarthy wrote. "Their expectations were so negative that they far outweighed the positive expectations of the 80 percent of respondents who did not mention the election!"

The monthly survey of 500 consumers measures attitudes toward topics like personal finances, inflation, unemployment, government policies and interest rates.

Consumers' assessment of current economic conditions fell to 105.4, from 105.6 at the end of March. Future expectations fell to 79.6 from 81.5.

"None of these declines indicate an impending recession, although concerns have risen about the resilience of consumers in the months ahead," Curtin said in a statement.

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