WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers’ sentiment tumbled in December, according to data released Friday, with concerns about the fiscal cliff more than offsetting lower gasoline prices and higher stocks.
The University of Michigan-Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment gauge fell to a final December reading of 72.9 – the lowest level since July – from 82.7 in November, reports said Friday.
A preliminary reading for December had pegged the level at 74.5. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a final December reading of 75.
“Confidence is lost much more easily than it can be regained, and the pessimism created by not reaching a resolution before year-end will be difficult to reverse even if a settlement is reached soon after the start of 2013,” said Richard Curtin, the consumer survey’s chief economist.
Looking forward, “if no resolution is reached the falloff could easily worsen in the weeks ahead,” according to the report.
No compromise on the fiscal cliff threatens the economy, with unemployment projected to rise to 9.1 percent by the end of next year, according to government analysts. According to the report, more than one-in-four respondents cited concerns about higher taxes.