US consumers felt only slightly more confident in February, a result that fell well below analyst expectations amid fears of a worsening job market and business conditions, a private survey released Tuesday said.

The monthly survey was a mixed result compared to January's upbeat assessment, though there were no indication that Americans were beginning to seriously doubt the strength of the world's largest economy, where consumer spending is a mainstay.

The Conference Board also moderated its result from January, dropping by almost a full point its initial result that showed consumers upbeat at the start of the year.

Consumer confidence rose in February to 130.7 -- below analysts' predictions of 132.0 -- from January's 130.4, a downward revision from the initial estimate of 131.6.

"Consumers continue to view current conditions quite favorably. Consumers' short-term expectations improved, and when coupled with solid employment growth, should be enough to continue to support spending and economic growth in the near term," said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators for The Conference Board.

Consumer spending is a mainstay of the US economy, and confidence remained high even as it retreated slightly in February Consumer spending is a mainstay of the US economy, and confidence remained high even as it retreated slightly in February Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / KEVORK DJANSEZIAN

The data's cutoff was February 13, well into the outbreak of coronavirus that's rattled markets amid fears of global economic disruption, but before it reached its current numbers of more than 2,600 deaths and over 79,000 infections.

Survey respondents saying business conditions are "good" declined to 38.6 percent from 40.0 percent in January, while those describing them as "bad" rose to 11.9 percent from 10.4 percent.

Consumers were similarly uncertain about the job market: People saying jobs were "plentiful" dropped to 44.6 percent from 47.2 percent, and those saying jobs are "hard to get" increased to 14.8 percent from 11.9 percent.

Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics called the report "slightly weaker than expected, but still not weak. Confidence is down from its high, but still fairly high."

Respondents saw future improvements, with 20.4 percent seeing business conditions getting better in the next six months, compared to 18.4 percent in January.

Expectations for better income over the same period increased slightly as well, while more people said they planned to buy a new car, home or major appliance.