Consumer confidence took an unexpected dip January, largely driven down by a tepid job market, negating gains over the last two months and widely missing economists' expectations, according to data released Tuesday.
The Confidence Board's index, which measures consumer attitudes about the U.S. economy, fell to 61.1 from last month's revised 64.8 reading. The jobs hard to get index increased to 43.5 percent from 41.6 percent, while the jobs plentiful measure dropped from 6.6 percent to 6.1 percent.
The numbers were sharply lower than the 68 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.
Consumers' expectations in January also fell to 76.2 percent from 77, while their assessment of the present situation dropped to 38.4 percent. The changes are fueled by a grim short-term outlook, as Americans' perceptions about business conditions, the labor market and their chances at an increased income all fell.
The reports' findings sent reverberations through the market, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 falling about a point shortly after its release.
Regarding the short-term outlook, consumers are more upbeat about employment, but less optimistic about business conditions and their income prospects, said Lynn Franco, director of The Confidence Board Consumer Research Center. Recent increases in gasoline prices may have consumers feeling a little less confident this month.