A leading gauge of U.S. consumer confidence slid in April after steadying in March, casting doubt on whether a rebound in consumer spending in the first three months of 2001 will be sustained in the second quarter.

The University of Michigan's April final consumer sentiment index, which measures consumers' attitudes about the economy and their current financial picture, fell to 88.4 in April from 91.5 in March, market sources said on Friday.

A preliminary reading, released two weeks ago before the U.S. Federal Reserve surprised markets with its fourth cut in short-term interest rates this year, came in at 87.8.

The report followed earlier news that the economy showed a surprising spurt of growth in the first quarter, expanding at a 2.0 percent annualized pace, helped in part by a pickup in consumer spending.

The April final expectations index, which measures how consumers feel about the twelve months ahead and which has fallen off sharply earlier this year, fell to 82.2 in April from 83.9 in March. The current conditions index also tumbled, to 98.0 in April from 103.4 in March.