U.S. consumer sentiment brightened slightly in November, helped by cheaper gasoline and a better jobs outlook, but came in below market expectations, a survey released Wednesday showed.
The University of Michigan’s final reading for November of its consumer confidence index was 92.8, up from 91.7 in October but below November’s preliminary reading of 95.5, according to market sources who saw the subscription-only report. Analysts on average had forecast the index would rise to 96.0.
“With the (U.S. presidential) election over, energy prices declining and the labor market apparently improving, we would have expected a more significant boost to attitudes,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist with RBS Greenwich Capital in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The index’s measure of current conditions edged up to 104.7 from 104.0 while the expectations component rose to 85.2 from 83.8.
U.S. Treasury debt prices showed little reaction and continued to hover near unchanged, with the data seen as too mixed to offer any clear direction and with liquidity low ahead of an early market close for Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday.
Oil prices slid below the $50 per barrel mark in November after spending much of October above that level, and the savings are being passed on to the gasoline pump.
Consumers are also feeling better about the jobs market after data this month showed a marked improvement in hiring, with U.S. non-farm payrolls rising by 337,000 in October.
Consumer confidence is considered a barometer of consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the U.S. economy, although the correlation between consumer confidence and retail sales has not been strong in recent years.