Washington • U.S. consumer sentiment ticked up in August, driven by greater optimism about jobs, rising incomes, and increasing wealth. Yet the increase largely occurred among higher-income groups.
The University of Michigan said Friday its index of consumer sentiment rose to 82.5 from 81.8 in July. The August level is only slightly higher than it was a year ago.
Consumers have sent mixed signals in recent months. The Michigan index has fluctuated between 80 and 82.5 since December. But a measure of consumer confidence by the Conference Board rose this month to nearly a seven-year high.
And yet Americans cut back their spending in July, according to a government report Friday. Consumer spending slipped 0.1 percent last month, the first drop since January. The decline was driven by a drop in spending on autos, which took a breather after several months of strong sales.