Consumer confidence dips slightly

Consumer confidence dipped slightly in January according to the benchmark Thomson Reuters / University of Michigan survey out Friday. 

The survey's consumer sentiment index dropped to 81.2 this month, down from 82.5 in December. That is still much better than the 73.8 value recorded a year ago, however. Consumer feelings about current economic condition are up nearly 14 percent from January 2013, and feelings about the future are up 6.9 percent.


The confidence data comes a day after the economy clocked a robust 3.2 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2013. The strong GDP number sparked a rally in stocks. 

Survey economist Richard Curtin said that rebound in sentiment, crucial to spurring the kind of spending that is needed to finally end the long economic slump, remains soft by comparison to other recoveries from recession.

"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. This deeply rooted uncertainty about future economic conditions was first sparked by the Great Recession. 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," Curtin said. 

The survey warned that consumer sentiment may continue to be soft in the coming weeks given the rising cost of home heating due to the especially cold winter the United States is experiencing. The higher utility bills would tend to reduce discretionary spending.