U.S. consumer sentiment dropped in January after jumping to a five-month high in December, as Americans felt less optimistic about long term economic prospects, a survey showed Friday.
The final reading of the consumer sentiment index in January dipped to 81.2 from 82.5 in December, according to the monthly Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey of consumers. That was slightly better than a preliminary reading of 80.4 earlier this month.
The sub-index of current economic conditions, which reflects Americans' perceptions of their financial situation and whether they consider it a good time to buy big-ticket items like houses or cars, fell to 96.8 in January from 98.6 in December.
The sub-index gauging consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, declined to 71.2 in January from 72.1 in the prior month.
"Despite the recent economic gains, consumers' outlook for their finances as well as the national economy over the longer term have remained more resistant to improvement than in past recoveries," survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement.
"It has been sustained by the growing recognition that no federal policy has yet emerged that will restore long term economic prosperity anytime soon for the majority of consumers," he noted.
The consumer sentiment index, released twice each month, one preliminary and the other final, averaged 64.2 during the latest recession from December 2007 to June 2009, and was at 89 in the five years leading up to the recession.