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Consumer sentiment dips in January

A shopper walks down an aisle in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Yo
A shopper walks down an aisle in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Yo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer sentiment dipped slightly in January, with recent economic improvement not translating to expectations for future gains, a survey released on Friday showed.

The final reading on the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's overall index of consumer sentiment slipped to 81.2 in January, down from the 82.5 posted in December but up from the preliminary January reading of 80.4.

Analysts were looking for a reading of 81.0 in the month.

While upper income households reported improved confidence, households with incomes less than $75,000 reported a decrease.

"Prospects for either consumers' own personal finances or for the economy as a whole have remained more resistant to improvement, especially longer term prospects," survey director Richard Curtin wrote in a statement.

"This has prevented recent economic gains from building the type of positive upward momentum that has sparked and sustained increases in consumer optimism and confidence."

The survey's barometer of current economic conditions dropped to 96.8 in January, down from the 98.6 December reading but above both the initial read of 95.2 and the analyst expectation for a read of 95.5.

The survey's gauge of consumer expectations fell to 71.2 from 72.1 in December and was slightly below the mean estimate of 71.5. However, it was up from the preliminary reading of 70.9.

The one-year inflation expectation was 3.1 percent, above the 3.0 percent December figure, while the survey's five-to-10-year inflation outlook rose to 2.9 percent from 2.7 percent last month.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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