Consumer sentiment is blue

U.S. consumer sentiment edged lower in early April due to the stock market, Mideast violence and a slight rise in unemployment, according to a study by the University of Michigan. Reuters reported that the university's preliminary consumer sentiment index for April slid to 94.4 from 95.7 in March. Analysts thought the index would rise to 96.5 because the economy has shown signs of recovering since the Sept. 11 attacks. The data added to evidence that slight retail sales growth in March showed consumers are not likely to drive strong growth during the first half of this year. The growing violence in the Middle East and recent surge in fuel price have weighed heavily on future expectations. However, economists said the slight dip in the index did not disrupt a clear upward trend since the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York. The Dept. of Commerce said that retail sales grew more than expected in March, up by 0.2%, but slower than the 0.4% pace economists had expected. The Dept. of Labor said last week ago that the U.S. jobless rate rose to 5.7% in March from 5.5% in February, showing that the recovery has yet to add jobs to the economy.

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