The University of Michigan's preliminary March consumer sentiment index reading was 71.8, compared to the final February 77.6, the preliminary February 76.3, and the final January 73.8, according to market sources.

The expectations index was 61.7, compared to 70.2 in February, 68.7 earlier in February, and 66.6 in January.

The current conditions index was 87.5, compared to 89.0 in February, 88.0 earlier in February, and 85.0 in January.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted a 78.0 reading for the main index, 87.5 for current conditions and 68.0 for expectations.

The five-year inflation expectation index was 2.9%, compared to 3.0% in February, while the one-year inflation expectation index was 3.3%, compared to 3.3% in February.

The University of Michigan index is not released to the press, but only to paying subscribers.

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