Consumer sentiment unexpectedly deteriorated for a second straight month to its lowest point in over a year in January, with many consumers citing the recent "fiscal cliff" debate in Washington, according to a survey released today, Reuters reported.

 

The sharp drop in sentiment over the last two months coincides with rancorous federal budget negotiations that have led to higher taxes for many Americans.

 

Just weeks after that deal, President Barack Obama and Republican lawmakers are expected to enter another tough round of negotiations over spending cuts, which could dent consumer confidence still further.

 

"The handling of the fiscal cliff talks and the realization that paychecks are going to be smaller due to the sunset of the payroll tax holiday are probably weighing on consumer attitudes at the moment," said Thomas Simons, a money market economist at Jefferies & Co. in New York. "With the debt ceiling yet to be tackled and more political acrimony on the way, we suspect that confidence has room to deteriorate further." Read more.