Consumer Sentiment Dips in February

Consumer confidence drifted lower in February as the economic outlook deteriorated.

The University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index for February, released Friday, registered at 90.7, compared with a final January reading of 92.0.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected the February index would slide to 91.8.

The index touched 96.1 as recently as June, but signs of slower economic growth in the U.S. and turmoil abroad have weighed on confidence. Still, February's measure remained well above the 87.2 reading from September.

"The small early February decline was due to a less favorable outlook for the economy during the year ahead, while longer-term prospects for the national economy remained unchanged at favorable levels," said Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist.

Write to Jeffrey Sparshott at