U.S. Consumer Confidence Ticks Down in Early January

Consumer confidence in the U.S. fell slightly in early January, data from the University of Michigan survey of consumers showed Friday.

The preliminary estimate of the index of consumer sentiment was 79.2 in January, down from 80.7 in December. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected the indicator to come in at a similar 79.4.

January's only slight decline in consumer sentiment occurred despite the rise in Covid-19 deaths, the insurrection, and President Trump's impeachment, factors that were offset by the progress in the vaccination campaign and a partisan shift in expectations due to the anticipated impact of Joe Biden's economic policies, said Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist.

Confidence stands 20.6% below the figure registered the same month a year earlier, the data showed.

Consumers' assessment of the current economic conditions decreased to 87.7 in January from 90.0 in December.

The index of consumer expectations--which reflects the balance of respondents anticipating improved business conditions in the next six months--declined to 73.8 from 74.6 the prior month.

"The partisan shift in expectations was due to anticipated changes in economic policies; the shift was as large as the opposite shift that accompanied Trump's election," Mr. Curtin said, noting that these gaps in expectations are too extreme to be justified by economic fundamentals.

As for Covid-19, its threats to physical and mental health were seen in January as more important than its financial repercussions, he said.

The survey was conducted between Jan. 2 and Jan. 13. The final reading for the month will be published on Jan. 29.

Write to Xavier Fontdegloria at xavier.fontdegloria@wsj.com


  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  01-15-21 1033ET
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