NEW YORK (Reuters) – Consumer sentiment rose to its highest level in three years in February, helped by an improving view of the labor market recovery, a survey released on Friday showed.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey's final February reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 77.5, up from 74.2 in January, and the highest since January 2008.
It was above the median forecast of 75.3 among economists polled by Reuters and also above the early February reading of 75.1.
Gains in confidence of households with incomes above $75,000 accounted for all the month's jump, the survey showed. Consumers reported "significant" labor market improvements and judged their personal finances more favorably than at any other time in the past three years.
The survey's barometer of current economic conditions also rose to the highest level since January 2008. It came in at 86.9, up from 81.8 in January. It was a tad above a forecast of 86.8.
The survey's gauge of consumer expectations rose to 71.6, its highest reading since September 2009. January's reading was 69.3.
The inflation outlook was unchanged from the month before. The survey's one-year inflation expectation remained at 3.4 percent, while the survey's five-to-10-year inflation outlook stayed at 2.9 percent.
(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
LONDON (AFP) – Britain's economy shrank by a worse-than-expected 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, official data showed on Friday, hit partly by the impact of harsh wintry weather.
"Gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, revised down from the previously estimated fall of 0.5 percent," the Office for National Statistics said in statement.
That marked the largest quarterly drop in GDP -- the total value of goods and services produced in the economy -- since the second quarter of 2009.
The sharp contraction followed expansion of 0.7 percent in the third quarter of last year. Market expectations had been for no change from the previous estimate, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
The downward revision for the October-December period was sparked by weaker-than-anticipated data from the construction industry and services sectors.
"Certainly the bad weather played its part and we should get a bounceback in the first quarter of 2011," said ING economist James Knightley.
"However, the ONS has already stated that stripping out bad weather activity was fairly flat in the fourth quarter of 2010, so we should not overstate the case for a large weather effect rebound."
The ONS added on Friday that British GDP shrank by 1.5 percent between October and December compared with the fourth quarter in 2009. That compared with the previous estimated contraction of 1.7 percent.
- Office for National Statistics
WASHINGTON – Singer John Legend was in Washington to sing at the White House on Thursday but he had a few choice words for the politicians in town, too.
Legend told reporters before an evening concert celebrating Motown's music that too often the arts are the first thing to go when budgets need to be cut.
"People fought to give me — a millionaire — a tax cut this year," he said. "I didn't need it. And all the other millionaires didn't need it either."
The singer said he'd benefited from cultural organizations such as community choirs and arts councils in earlier years, which often suffer when budgets get trimmed.
"I hope our politicians will not think that they are expendable and they can just get rid of them and nobody will feel the pain," he said. "Because I think society will feel the pain."
He added: "I'm really frustrated with some of the discourse that's coming out of Washington."