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US consumer sentiment edges down to 81.8 reading in July reflecting lower future expectations

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WASHINGTON - A measure of U.S. consumer confidence slipped in July although it remained at levels signalling further gains in consumer spending.

The University of Michigan said Friday that its index of consumer sentiment edged down to 81.8 in July from 82.3 in June. The index of consumers' assessment of current conditions rose but the index for expectations dipped slightly from the June reading.

Survey director Richard Curtin said that consumers have yet to interpret the recent gains in jobs and wages as a sign of more robust hiring and economic growth in the future.

"The slow and uneven pace of the recovery in jobs and incomes during the past five years has made consumers unwilling to put much stock in favourable economic forecasts," Curtin said.

The final reading for the sentiment gauge for July was a slight improvement over a preliminary reading of 81.3.

The July performance of the Michigan index was at odds with the July survey of consumer sentiment from the Conference Board. That index showed consumer confidence rising to a reading of 90.9, the highest point since October 2007, two months before the Great Recession officially ended.

Dean Maki, an economist at Barclays Research, said even with the small dip in the Michigan index, it remained at levels consistent with continued moderate growth in consumer spending.

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