US consumer sentiment falls less than expected, remaining near all-time highs

  • U.S. consumer sentiment was stronger than expected in the final January reading.
  • The University of Michigan survey of consumer attitudes slipped just 0.2 points from December.
A shopper carries Gump's shopping bags in San Francisco.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A shopper carries Gump's shopping bags in San Francisco.

U.S. consumer sentiment was stronger than expected in the final January reading.

The University of Michigan's survey of consumer attitudes for January slipped to 95.7 in January, just 0.2 points below December's 95.9. Economists polled by Reuters expected this month's final reading to slip to 95.

"Consumer sentiment has remained largely unchanged for more than a year at very favorable levels," the survey's chief economist Richard Curtin said in a statement.

Curtin noted that the index now sits only 1.1 points below the 96.8 average reading for 2017 – the highest yearly average in 17 years.

"Consumers continued to expect growth in jobs and incomes, but anticipated a slightly higher inflation rate," Curtin said.

The measure soared to 101.1 on Oct. 13 — the highest level since 2004 — but has deflated steadily since.

The index measures 500 consumers' attitudes on future economic prospects, in areas such as personal finances, inflation, unemployment, government policies and interest rates.