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Consumer Confidence Reaches Five-Year Low

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index fell in March to a five-year low of 64.4 points, down 12 points from the February number of 76.4. Industry experts had predicted a small decline to 73.4 points. The index numbers, considered a strong predictor of consumer spending, are based on the Consumer Confidence Survey, which takes a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. "Consumers' outlook for business conditions, the job market, and their income prospects is quite pessimistic and suggests further weakening may be on the horizon," says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "The Expectations Index, in fact, is now at a 35-year low, levels not seen since the Oil Embargo and Watergate." The survey revealed that 25.4 percent of respondents believe that business conditions are "bad," with the same percentage expecting business conditions to worsen over the next six months, with only 8.1 percent expecting an improvement. Only 14.9 percent expect to see their incomes increase in the near future.

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