Stocks reached their best levels of the session just before 10:00 AM after the final University of Michigan consumer sentiment was released. The revised reading of 88.1 was marginally higher than the preliminary reading of 86.5, but well below Junes reading of 92.4. July's final 88.1 reading is the lowest reading since November's 83.9, after bottoming at 81.8 in September.
Richard Curtin, director of the university's research center said, "The data indicate a slowdown in consumer spending, but not outright declines in overall expenditures."
Consumers as polled by the survey said buying conditions for autos and homes had improved in July, thanks to lower interest rates. But attitudes about buying other consumer durable goods fell.
The current conditions index dipped to 99.3 in July from 99.5 in June. The preliminary reading was 99.0.
Mr. Curtin also said, "Consumers' assessments of their current finances remained weak" with one-third of the consumers saying their income fell in July, with upper income households just as likely declines as lower income households.
The outlook for the next 12 months dropped to 91 in July from 113 in June. The five-year outlook fell to 100 from 102 in June and May's 116 level.
Major averages hold gains
The major market averages are currently holding gains as the Dow trades up 14 points, the S&P 500 is higher by 3.98 points and the NASDAQ Composite shows a 16 point gain.
Breadth on both the NYSE and NASDAQ are slightly positive with advancer outnumbering decliners on the NYSE at 16 to 13, while over at the NASDAQ, breadth is 147 gainers to 141 decliners.
New highs versus new lows still has a greater number of stocks hitting new lows. On the NYSE, there are only 8 stocks hitting new highs versus 243 stocks at new lows. NASDAQ shows similar results with just 5 stocks at new highs at 204 stocks falling to a new 52-week low.