Consumer sentiment lowest since December
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment index fell to a preliminary July reading of 72 -- the lowest since December -- from 73.2 in June, according to Friday reports. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a July reading of 73, with views on Europe and U.S. fiscal uncertainty continuing to constrain sentiment. The sentiment gauge, which covers how consumers view their personal finances as well as business and buying conditions, averaged about 87 in the year before the most recent recession. Economists watch sentiment data to get a feel for the direction of consumer spending.