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Consumer sentiment drops in March

Posted on March 31st, 2014 Read time: 1 minutes

Confidence among consumers fell in March, a sign that spending may not be as robust as economists had originally predicted.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final index, which gauges consumer sentiment, ended March with a reading of 80. This is slightly below February's index of 81.6, but higher than the preliminary March reading of 79.9.

The March index was also a bit under the projected reading from many economists. According to a survey conducted by Bloomberg, the median index reading was projected to be 80.5. Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities, told Bloomberg these figures have been discouraging.

"Right now there's a lot of uncertainty around the economy," Stanley said. "The data has been a bit disappointing, but at the same time you've had the whole weather distortion story and no one really knows whether things are doing better on an underlying basis or not."

Although the consumer index dropped over the past month, job growth has been a positive sign for the economy over the past month. The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits fell by 10,000 in the week that ended on March 27 for a total of 311,000, according to the Labor Department. With fewer people filing for unemployment and the economy showing signs of growth, companies may feel comfortable hiring full-time, part-time and temporary workers.

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