Consumer sentiment up; outlook gauge drops
U.S. consumer sentiment exceeded analyst estimates as low unemployment and growing incomes kept Americans in an upbeat mood, though the outlook soured amid concern that the labor market will soften. The University of Michigan’s preliminary December sentiment index was unchanged from November at 97.5 and compares with the median estimate of 97 in a Bloomberg survey of economists, according to data released Friday. The gauge of current conditions increased to 115.2 from 112.3, while the expectations index dipped two points to 86.1, the lowest in a year. Even though the outlook weakened, confidence remains fairly solid, with support from strong hiring, improving wages and cheaper fuel costs. A measure of buying conditions for long-lasting goods rose six points to 167, the highest since March.