NEW YORK U.S. consumer sentiment improved slightly in November from earlier in the month, but it was weaker than October as deep anxiety lingered over personal finances, a survey showed on Wednesday.
This uneasiness foreshadows another tough year-end holiday season for retailers, some of which already slashed prices to lure shoppers.
The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said the final figure for its index of consumer sentiment in November stepped up to 67.4 from 66.0 in the first half of the month.
Analysts had expected a final November figure of 67.0, compared with a final October reading of 70.6.
"The decline in consumer confidence was due to grim assessments by consumers of their finances, the worst ever recorded in the 60-year history of the surveys," Richard Curtin, director of the survey, said in a statement.
Curtin referred to the survey's finding in early November that only 9 percent of consumers polled said they saw income gains, the lowest amount since 1946.
The survey's index on current personal finances ended November at 63 compared with 69 a month ago, while the reading on expected personal finances closed out the month at 112, down from 117 at the end of October.
With unemployment hitting a 26-year high in October, consumers' gloom over their finances darkened their current and future outlook on the economy, even as growth returned in the third quarter.
The survey's index on current economic conditions was 68.8 in late November, down from 69.6 early November and 73.7 late October. Analysts had expected a late month reading of 70.0.
The survey's barometer on consumer economic expectations was 66.5 in the second half of November, up from 63.7 in the first half of the month but down from 68.6 in late October. Analysts had forecast a late November figure of 64.0.
(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)