Consumer sentiment hits 8-month high: survey

NEW YORK Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:03am EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer sentiment rose to its highest level in eight months in early February, boosted by recent tax cuts and optimism about the economy, a survey released on Friday showed.

While consumers were more cheery about the economic and job market recovery, they still expected improvement to be lackluster, according to the latest consumer survey from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan.

The preliminary February reading for the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 75.1, up from 74.2 in January.

It was the highest level since June 2010 and was roughly in-line with the median forecast of 75 expected by economists polled by Reuters.

The survey's barometer of current economic conditions jumped to 86.8, up from 81.8 the month before and the highest level since January 2008.

The survey's gauge of consumer expectations slipped to 67.6 from January's 69.3.

Inflation concerns remained high with the survey's one-year inflation expectation unchanged at 3.4 percent. It was the highest expected inflation rate since the fall of 2008. The five-to-10-year inflation outlook was also unchanged at 2.9 percent.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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