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Consumer sentiment: 89 vs. 90 expected

Consumers were feeling a bit less optimistic in April as the presidential election weighed on future expectations, according to a recent survey.

The index of consumer sentiment hit 89 in April, the University of Michigan said Friday. Analysts expected consumer sentiment to reach 90 in April's final reading, down from 91 in March, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

A shopper looks in the toy department of a Target store in Chicago.
Jim Young | Reuters
A shopper looks in the toy department of a Target store in Chicago.

"Consumer sentiment continued its slow decline in late April due to weakening expectations for future growth, although their views of current economic conditions remained positive," said Richard Curtin, an economist who oversees the survey.

A closely followed barometer of economic health, the survey measures consumers' attitudes toward current economic conditions and future expectations.

While consumers' assessment of current business conditions improved during April, their future outlook dimmed. The current conditions index hit 106.7, up from 105.6 in March, the survey said. But the index of future expectations fell to 77.6 from 81.5 in March.

Future expectations are now down 14.7 percent from their January 2015 peak, Curtin said in a statement.

"The decline is all the more remarkable given that consumers' assessments of current economic conditions, including their personal finance, have remained largely unchanged at very positive levels during the past year," Curtin said. "This divergence may reflect the strength of the consumer relative to the business sectors, and may have been exacerbated by growing uncertainty about the economic policies advocated by various presidential candidates."