U.S. consumer sentiment inched up in early August from July and was a tad above expectations, but consumers see little improvement in the economy ahead, a survey said on Friday.
The slight pickup in sentiment follows a drop in July to the lowest level since November, the data from Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's Surveys of Consumers showed.
The survey's preliminary August reading on the overall index on consumer sentiments rose to 69.6 from 67.8 in July, above the median forecast of 69.3 among economists polled by Reuters.
The sentiment index is just several points above where it was a year ago, with worries about prospects for job growth and income hanging over sentiment.
"The gain was too small to represent a meaningful improvement," Richard Curtin, director of the surveys, said in a statement. "Consumers have increasingly come to expect lackluster income and job growth for an extended period of time."
Job growth is considered key to keeping the recovery moving forward, with consumer spending accounting for 70 percent of the U.S. economy. A weaker-than-expected July jobs report from the U.S. government was among recent data fueling worries about a recovery slowdown.
"While consumers increasingly believed the worst of the downturn was over..the majority expected that overall economic conditions would remain largely unchanged during the year ahead," Curtin said.
Still, the survey's barometer of current economic conditions edged up to 78.3 in August from 76.5 in July, while expectations were for it to remain unchanged.
The survey's gauge of consumer expectations rose to 64.1 from 62.3 in July. Analysts had predicted a reading of 63.7.
The measure on consumers' 12-month economic outlook edged up to 69 from 66 in July.
The survey's one-year inflation expectations measure ticked up to 2.8 from 2.7 in July.