The Conference Board's consumer confidence index, which had declined sharply last month, was flat in March. The index now stands at 88.3 (1985=100), virtually unchanged from 88.5 in February. The present situation index rose to 84.1 from 83.3. The expectations index dipped slightly to 91 from 91.9. "While consumers claimed business conditions were more favorable in March than last month, they also claimed jobs were less readily available," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "The labor market not only continues to dampen consumers' present-day spirits, but it is also making them less optimistic about the short-term outlook." Consumers' optimism about future conditions continues to wane. Those expecting business conditions to improve in the n...
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