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Consumer sentiment wanes in April

An empty shopping cart is seen outside a closed Toy R Us store in Northfield a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, March 1, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Sta
An empty shopping cart is seen outside a closed Toy R Us store in Northfield a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, March 1, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Sta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer sentiment eased in April as Americans remained concerned about their employment and financial prospects, a survey released on Friday showed.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment fell to 76.4 from 78.6 in March, although it topped economists' expectations for 73.2.

It also was an improvement from April's preliminary reading of 72.3.

The barometer of current economic conditions fell to 89.9 from 90.7, while the gauge of consumer expectations slipped to 67.8 from 70.8.

Just 23 percent of consumers anticipated a decline in the unemployment rate during the coming year, while three out of four expected an unchanged or higher jobless rate.

Consumers continued to take a grim view of government economic policy, with just 9 percent rating policy favorably, slightly above the all-time low of 4 percent.

The outlook for vehicle and home purchases remained positive, with eight out of 10 respondents viewing home buying conditions as favorable. But the overall index measuring buying conditions for durable goods fell to 137 from 140.

The survey's one-year inflation expectation fell to 3.1 percent from 3.2 percent, while the survey's five-to-10-year inflation outlook also edged down to 2.9 percent from 2.8 percent.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr)

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