Consumer sentiment edged slightly lower in February, a new survey showed today, which largely reflected a reversal of the seasonal jump a month earlier. 

The KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI consumer sentiment index fell to 100.7 from 103.1 in January.

The index in January had reversed a decline that endured for much of 2016 despite the economy outgrowing the rest of the European Union for a third year in a row. 

That rebound from economic crisis a decade ago has continued into 2017, with unemployment falling below 7%.

But it has failed to spur sentiment since the index hit a 15-year high of 108.6 a year ago, with many observers citing an uneven recovery. 

The index has only once moved in the same direction for two successive months over that period - backwards more often than not. 

KBC Bank Ireland suggested this showed that for the typical consumer the situation has stopped getting worse but is not improving dramatically. 

"The survey suggests that typical Irish consumers are still cautiously positive in their outlook but they remain apprehensive about potential threats to the economy and jobs in the coming year," KBC Bank Ireland's chief economist, Austin Hughes. 

"A 'one step forward, one step back' economic environment continues to produce very choppy sentiment readings that reflect the difficulties consumers have in making sense of both their current circumstances and their financial prospects," the economist added.