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American consumers haven’t been this glum since October 2011

US consumer sentiment fell to its lowest level in more than a decade in early February amid expectations that inflation would continue to rise in the near term, a survey showed on Friday. The University of Michigan said its preliminary consumer sentiment index dropped to 61.7 in the first half of this month, the lowest since October 2011, from a final reading of 67.2 in January. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index edging up to 67.5. The survey’s gauge of current economic conditions fell to a reading of 68.5 from 72.0 in January. Its measure of consumer expectations declined to 57.4 from 64.1 in January. According to the University of Michigan, sentiment among households with incomes of $100,000 or more dropped by 16.1% from last month. The impact of higher inflation on personal finances was spontaneously cited by one-third of all consumers, with nearly half of all consumers expecting declines in their inflation-adjusted incomes during the year ahead, it said. The survey’s gauge of current economic conditions fell to a reading of 68.5, the lowest since August 2011 from 72.0 in January. Its measure of consumer expectations declined to 57.4, the lowest since November 2011, from 64.1 in January. The survey’s one-year inflation expectations rose to 5.0%, the highest since 2008, from 4.9%, while its five-to-10-year inflation outlook held steady at 3.1%. The government reported Thursday that consumer prices recorded their largest annual increase in 40 years in January.

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