Despite buoyant stock and housing markets and other signs of upturn, a new reading of U.S. consumer sentiment registered a sharp decline last month from January. The Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll of consumer optimism came in at 42.2, down from 47.3 the previous month and well below the 50 neutral mark. Among factors dimming the mood are a "persistently weak" job market and continued shrinkage in incomes, said pollster Raghavan Mayur.

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