U.S. consumer sentiment falls in March

Reuters
File photo of shopper walking down aisle in newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago
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A shopper walks down an aisle in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Young/Files

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumer sentiment fell in March as consumers were less hopeful about the prospects for the overall economy, a survey released on Friday showed.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final March reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 80.0, up a tick from the preliminary 79.9 March reading but down from an 81.6 the month before.

It was slightly below the median forecast of 80.5 among economists polled by Reuters.

"Current conditions in the overall economy were reported by consumers to have recently weakened, and long term prospects for the economy softened," survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement.

The survey's barometer of current economic conditions fell to 95.7 from the preliminary 96.1 reading but edged up from the 95.4 reading in the prior month. Expectations called for a 96.3 reading.

The survey's gauge of consumer expectations slipped to 70.0 from the 72.7 in February, but rose from the preliminary 69.4, and was just below an expected 70.2.

The survey's one-year inflation expectation remained unchanged at 3.2 percent from both the February and preliminary March readings, while the survey's five-year inflation outlook was also unmoved at 2.9 percent.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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