U.S. consumer sentiment held steady in early March, a report showed on Friday.

The University of Michigan's preliminary March index of consumer sentiment read 86.7, unchanged from the final February figure of 86.7, said sources who saw the subscription-only report. The median forecast of Wall Street economists polled by Reuters was for a rise in the preliminary March index to 88.0.

The survey's index of current conditions rose to 106.2 in early March from 105.6 in February.

The gauge on consumer expectations, however, went in the opposite direction, slipping slightly to 74.2 in early March from the final February reading of 74.5.

Confidence measures are often used as a gauge of future spending patterns. Consumer spending comprises roughly two-thirds of overall U.S. economic activity, and is seen as an indication of strength or weakness in economic growth.