U.S. consumer sentiment increased in the first half of August to its highest level since January, as consumers cited a positive outlook for future economic conditions.
The University of Michigan on Friday said its preliminary reading on overall consumer sentiment during August was 97.6, up from 93.4 in July. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected an August figure of 94.5.
An index that tracks expectations about the future rose to 89.0 in August from 80.5 in the previous month. An index tracking confidence in the current economic situation fell to 111.0 from 113.4 in July.
News over the past week has been dominated by reaction to racially charged protests in Charlottesville, Va. But Richard Curtin, the Michigan survey's chief economist, said too few interviews were conducted after the protests to gauge how much the events will impact consumer sentiment.
"The fallout is likely to reverse the improvement in economic expectations recorded across all political affiliations in early August, " Mr. Curtin said.
Stronger consumer sentiment has translated into increased spending in some pockets of the economy. Sales at U.S. retailers rose 0.6% in July, the biggest monthly gain since December, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.
Write to Josh Zumbrun at Josh.Zumbrun@wsj.com and Sarah Chaney at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 18, 2017 10:38 ET (14:38 GMT)