U.S. consumer sentiment fell in December, but improved in the second half of the month after the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, market sources said on Tuesday.
The University of Michigan's final reading of consumer sentiment fell to 92.6 in December, compared with 93.7 in November, though it was up from the preliminary survey reading of 89.6, the sources said, quoting a survey released to subscribers. Economists had forecast 91.0.
Saddam's capture on Dec. 13 triggered a robust rally in the stock market, and likely lifted consumer sentiment from the beginning of the month, Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York.
But sentiment declined from November, likely because the job market, which has shown early signs of improvement, seemed to lose some momentum in November, Low said.
A report in early December showed that payrolls grew at a slower rate in November than economists had expected.
Lower consumer sentiment seems to be reflected in lackluster retail sales for the holiday season, even if the link between sentiment and sales is usually weak.
Retailers including Wal-Mart Stores have warned that the holiday season could be on the weak side of their expectations, in part because of bad weather in Northeast.