NEW YORK — Consumers grew more confident in April amid job gains and slightly declining gas prices. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment increased to a three-month high of 74.3 from 69.8 in April.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected the index to be unchanged from the preliminary figure. At the same time, income expectations remained at low levels.
"Sagging real incomes have made consumers more cautious spenders, with rising gas prices especially troublesome for younger and lower income households," Richard Curtin, director of the survey, said in a statement. “The data continue to indicate the maintenance of a moderate pace of consumer spending during the balance of 2011."
The Michigan survey’s current conditions gauge, which reflects Americans’ perceptions of their financial situation and whether they consider it a good time to buy big-ticket items like cars, decreased to 81.9 from 82.5 the prior month.
Consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, of consumer spending rose to 69.5, the highest since February, from 61.6, the confidence report showed.
The survey's gauge of consumer expectations jumped to 69.5 from April's 61.6. It also came in above a predicted reading of 67.5.
The survey's barometer of current economic conditions was 81.9, slipping from April's 82.5 but topping forecasts of 80.2.