NEW YORK – U.S. consumer sentiment weakened slightly in early November, a report showed Thursday, as consumers scaled back their view of their current and future financial conditions.
The declines in the latest survey's readings were small but just enough to cast worries on how consumers would spend during the holiday shopping season.
"This is in-line with what we are looking at with the retailers and it confirms the weakness on the retail side," said Paul Nolte, director of investments at Hinsdale Associates in Hinsdale, Illinois.
The University of Michigan's preliminary reading on consumer sentiment in November was 92.3, down from October's reading of 93.6, said sources who saw the subscription-only report.
The median forecast of Wall Street economists polled by Reuters was for a reading of 93.6.
Falling gasoline prices have brightened consumer mood but not enough to elevate them again in early November, economists said.
Retail gasoline prices averaged $2.23 a gallon last week, 3.5 cents lower than a week earlier and 50 cents below a year ago, the Energy Information Administration said earlier this week.
The University of Michigan survey's index of current conditions slipped to 106.5 in early November from 107.3 in October, while consumer expectations dipped to 83.2 from 84.8 in October.
Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, but in recent years confidence measures have been a weak guide to actual spending.
Consumers' expectations for increased inflation fell in early November the report said, according to the sources.
The University of Michigan's preliminary November reading on one-year U.S. inflation expectations was 3.0 percent, down from 3.1 percent in October.
Median expectations for inflation over a five-year horizon fell to 3.0 percent from 3.1 percent in October.