September 1, 2017 / 2:23 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. consumer sentiment rises in August: University of Michigan

(Reuters) - U.S. consumer sentiment climbed in August from July as consumers remained optimistic about their personal financial conditions, although confidence was not quite as strong as economists had estimated, a survey showed Friday.

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

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose to 96.8 in August from a final reading of 93.4 the month before. The result fell short of expectations for a reading of 97.4, according to a Reuters poll, and also slipped from a preliminary reading of 97.6 two weeks earlier.

“The Sentiment Index has been higher during the first eight months of 2017 than in any year since 2000, which was the peak year of the longest expansion in U.S. history,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the Surveys of Consumers.

Curtin said respondents’ assessments of their personal financial circumstances are near record highs, fueled by low unemployment, inflation and interest rates, and gains in home prices and stock portfolios.

Few consumers in the survey made reference to recent turbulent events, such as the violent protests last month in Charlottesville, Virginia, and continued political tensions with North Korea, Curtin said. Hurricane Harvey, which has ravaged the Houston area over the last week with record rainfall and flooding, occurred too late in the survey cycle to register a measurable effect on consumer attitudes.

Reporting By Dan Burns; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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