U.S. consumer sentiment cooled more than forecast in January, adding to signs consumers may be growing less optimistic as vaccinations roll out amid soaring new infections.

The University of Michigan’s preliminary sentiment index fell to 79.2 from 80.7 last month, data released Friday showed. The figure fell below the forecast in Bloomberg’s survey of economists that had called for a slight pullback to 79.5.

The gauge of current conditions fell 2.3 points to 87.7, while a measure of expectations dropped 0.8 point to 73.8, according to the survey conducted Jan. 2-13.

The slightly more downbeat sentiment reading signals consumers may be starting the year with less faith in the economic recovery as soaring virus cases lead to new restrictions just as inoculations become more available. Nearly 1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week after the biggest jump in claims since March, a report showed Thursday.

The report also showed inflation expectations picking up. Consumers expect a year-ahead inflation rate of 3, up from 2.5 per cent readings both last month and a year earlier. The five-year estimate rose to 2.7 per cent from 2.5 per cent.

A separate report earlier Friday showed that retail sales decreased 0.7 per cent in December from the prior month, the latest indication that the new year may face a shaky start. Meanwhile, more support may be on the way: President-elect Joe Biden said Thursday he will ask Congress for US$1.9 trillion to fund immediate relief for the economy.