Deterioration in U.S. consumer sentiment
Economists had expected the index to inch up to a reading of 81.8. The unexpected decrease by the headline index came as the gauge of consumer expectations fell to 69.4 in March from 72.7 in February.
At the same time, the report showed that the barometer of current economic conditions climbed to 96.1 in March from 95.4 in the previous month.
Amna Asaf, an economist at Capital Economics, said most of the drop in consumer sentiment can be attributed to the unseasonably bad weather. "Overall, since weather effects tend to be short-lived, confidence will probably rebound in the coming months. With the labor market gradually improving and income growth prospects bright, any slowdown in consumption growth in the first quarter will probably be temporary too."
On the inflation front, one-year inflation expectations held steady at 3.2 percent in March, while the five-to-ten-year inflation outlook was unchanged at 2.9 percent. ■