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NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumer sentiment fell in March as optimism slipped among lower- and middle-income households, a survey released on Friday showed.
The University of Michigan's preliminary March reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment came in at 91.2, down from the final February reading of 95.4. It was below the median forecast of 95.5 among economists polled by Reuters.
"Consumer optimism slipped in early March among lower- and middle-income households (-6.5 percent from February) while confidence improved among households with incomes in the top third (+3.2 percent)," survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement.
"Despite the small temporary setbacks, the overall level of consumer confidence remains favorable enough to support 3.3 percent growth rate in personal consumption expenditures during 2015," he said.
The survey's barometer of current economic conditions fell to 103 from 106.9 in February and below a forecast of 105.7.
The survey's gauge of consumer expectations slipped to 83.7 from 88 and was below an expected 87.5.
The survey's one-year inflation expectation rose to 3.0 percent, marking the highest level since last September, from 2.8 percent. The survey's five-year inflation outlook was at 2.8 percent from 2.7 percent.
Reporting by Sam Forgione; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli