European shoppers appear confident despite the euro zone troubles.
European shoppers appear confident despite the euro zone troubles. Reuters

Consumer sentiment rose slightly in April as more Americans took a positive view of a long-term recovery, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index released Friday.

The index rose to 76.4 from 76.2 at the end of March. The reading beat a forecast of 75.7 from economists polled by Reuters, which matched a preliminary report of the index released earlier this month.

Consumer expectations rose to 72.3 from 69.8 in the previous month. Respondents' five-year outlook increased to 92 from 89 in March.

But only a quarter of respondents expected their finances to improve in 2012, and the view of current economic conditions fell to 82.9 from 86.0. Fewer households said their financial conditions improved in April, comprising 28 percent of the survey, down from 34 percent in March and above 27 percent in the previous year.

Respondents said they expected gasoline prices, which have reached over $4 per gallon in some regions, to moderate in coming months but remain higher in the long term.

The survey's one-year inflation forecast fell to 3.2 percent from 3.9 percent. Its five-to-10-year inflation fell to 2.9 percent from 3 percent.

Separately, the Commerce Department said Friday that GDP grew 2.2 percent in the first quarter, lower than expected, but consumer spending rose to 2.9 percent.