U.S. consumer sentiment rises in August: U. Michigan

Economic Indicators Reuters

FILE - In this March 13, 2015 file photo, shoppers walk past an advertisement for retailer "bebe" along Lincoln Road Mall, a pedestrian street featuring retail stores and outdoor cafes, in Miami Beach, Fla. The University of Michigan issues its ... monthly index of consumer sentiment for May on Friday, May 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File) (The Associated Press)

U.S. consumer sentiment climbed in August from July as consumers remained optimistic about their personal financial conditions, although confidence was not quite as strong as economists had estimated, a survey showed Friday.

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The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index rose to 96.8 in August from a final reading of 93.4 the month before. The result fell short of expectations for a reading of 97.4, according to a Reuters poll, and also slipped from a preliminary reading of 97.6 two weeks earlier.

"The Sentiment Index has been higher during the first eight months of 2017 than in any year since 2000, which was the peak year of the longest expansion in U.S. history," said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the Surveys of Consumers.

Curtin said respondents' assessments of their personal financial circumstances are near record highs, fueled by low unemployment, inflation and interest rates, and gains in home prices and stock portfolios.

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Few consumers in the survey made reference to recent turbulent events, such as the violent protests last month in Charlottesville, Virginia, and continued political tensions with North Korea, Curtin said. Hurricane Harvey, which has ravaged the Houston area over the last week with record rainfall and flooding, occurred too late in the survey cycle to register a measurable effect on consumer attitudes.

(Reporting By Dan Burns; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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