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U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly falls in November

A woman goes down an escalator at a Toys R Us store in New York, December 14, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A woman goes down an escalator at a Toys R Us store in New York, December 14, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly dipped in November to a near two-year low as lower-income households worried about their job prospects and financial outlooks and negative views of the government lingered, a survey released on Friday showed.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary reading on the overall index of consumer sentiment fell to 72.0 in November, its lowest since December 2011. That was lower than both October's final reading of 73.2 and the 74.5 economists had expected this month.

Lower-income households in particular worried about their future financial state. That was a contrast to richer households - those with incomes above $75,000 - which felt more optimistic as stock prices increases boosted net wealth gains.

Nevertheless, consumers largely remained nearly as negative on government policies as they were last month, when a federal government shutdown prompted worries growth would drag.

The government also came close to breaching its borrowing limit, which compounded the crisis and could have pushed the country closer to an historic debt default.

"Following the end of the shutdown, consumers were somewhat more optimistic about the outlook for the economy, but thus far the rebound has been lackluster," survey director Richard Curtin said in a statement.

The survey's gauge of consumer expectations edged down to 62.3, compared to 62.5 in October and expectations of 64.0.

The index of current conditions slipped to 87.2 from 89.9 last month. Analysts had projected a reading of 90.0.

The one-year inflation expectation rose to 3.1 percent from 3.0 percent, while the five-to-10-year inflation outlook gained to 2.9 percent from 2.8 percent.

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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