Univ. of Michigan: Consumer Sentiment Dips

U.S. consumer sentiment dipped a little more than expected in February, a survey showed Friday, although the report's impact on financial markets was minimal as it landed shortly after strong U.S. jobs data.

The University of Michigan's (search) final reading of its consumer confidence index for February fell to 94.1 from January's final reading of 95.5, according to market sources who saw the subscription-only report.

Analysts on average had forecast the final February figure would edge down to 94.5. The actual number, therefore, was a bit below expectations but not enough to move markets.

Bonds were already trading sharply higher and the dollar lower on market disappointment the economy didn't create as many jobs last month as some forecasters had expected, despite creation of 262,000 jobs after January's 146,000 gain.

"It's not a big deal," said Robert Brusca, chief economist at Fact and Opinion Economics (search) in New York, of the sentiment data. "The economy still has a lot of cross-currents."

"No surprises - it's in the range of volatility and doesn't tell you a whole deal about where the economy's going," said Ram Bhagavatula, chief economist for North America at Royal Bank of Scotland (search) in New York.

The University of Michigan survey's index of consumer expectations rose to a final February reading of 84.4 from January's 85.7, while the current conditions component eased to 109.2 from 110.9.

Consumer confidence is considered a barometer of consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the U.S. economy. However, the correlation between confidence and retail sales has not been strong in recent years.

Economists had forecast a rise in payrolls of around 220,000, but strong employment indicators earlier this week had injected extra bullishness surrounding the number.