US Consumer Confidence, measured by the Reuters/University of Michigan, dipped back towards November lows following increases in the previous two months. The indicator came in at 56.3, from a previous level of 61.2 in January. Economists had expected the full release to show a fall from previous levels as the preliminary data on Feb 13 pointed to a decline to 56.2. The downward move reflects deterioration in the economy despite recent passage of the stimulus bill and further aid for the banking and housing sectors. Consumers remain wary of a quick recovery and are doubtful of optimistic 2010 projections for growth as the economy continues to contract and shows no signs of significant improvement. Revised 4Q GDP came in at -6.2%, significantly below the advanced reading of a -3.8% contraction. Also, Americans claiming unemployment benefits rose to its highest on record, topping more than 5.1 million as job cuts continue to mount and production scales back. Despite the downside evident in the US economy, the currency has appreciated this week against major pairs including the Yen and Euro and does retain a safe-haven status as the US economy and financial system is better able to deal with political and socio-economic downturns than Europe.
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