Consumer Sentiment Dips Despite Jobs


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Confidence in the U.S. economy slipped again in April, surprising analysts who had thought a strong March jobs report would lighten the mood among consumers, a survey showed on Tuesday.

Investor's Business Daily and TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence said their economic optimism index fell to 52.8 in April from 54.5 in March, the third straight drop and a long way from the 22-month peak of 60.6 hit in January. A reading above 50 indicates optimism.

The gauge is based on over 900 interviews and predicts with 90 percent reliability the widely watched University of Michigan and Conference Board (news - web sites) consumer sentiment surveys.

"Most Americans continue to be very optimistic, but in about 30 percent of households, someone has either lost a job in the past 12 months or fears they might lose a job in the next 12 months," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TIPP.

Likewise confidence differed markedly by income class. Sentiment among those earning less than $50,000 declined, overshadowing an improvement among the higher paid.

The six-month economic outlook component, a measure of how consumers feel about the economy's potential in the next half year, lost 3.1 points to 50.5. The federal economic policies component rose 0.3 points to 47.7 and the personal financial outlook, which measures how respondents feel about their own finances six months hence, slipped 2.0 points to 60.3.

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