Consumer confidence fell for the fourth consecutive month in November, private research group The Conference Board reported today.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index now stands at 90.5 (1985=100), down from 92.9 in October. The survey is based on a sample of 5,000 U.S. households.

The expectations index in November declined to 87.4 from 92.2 in October. The present situation index edged up to 95.2 from 94.

“With consumers’ assessment of current conditions holding steadfast and intentions to spend for the holiday season up from a year ago, the outlook for retailers is mildly encouraging,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center. “But looking beyond the upcoming holidays, the continuing erosion in expectations suggests consumers do not feel the economy is likely to gain major momentum in early 2005.”

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions was mixed. Those claiming business conditions are “good” increased to 23 percent from 21.6 percent, while those claiming conditions are “bad” edged down to 20.5 percent from 21.4 percent. The employment picture was not as positive as last month. Consumers saying jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 16.8 percent from 17.4 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” rose to 28.1 percent from 27.9 percent.

Consumers’ short-term outlook continues to lose ground. Those anticipating conditions to worsen in the next six months increased to 11.9 percent from 10.5 percent. Consumers expecting business conditions to improve decreased to 19.3 percent from 20.7 percent.

The employment outlook was also more cautious. Consumers expecting fewer jobs to become available in the next six months rose to 19.7 percent from 18.3 percent. Those anticipating more jobs to become available was relatively unchanged at 16.8 percent. Consumers expecting their incomes to improve in the months ahead edged down to 18.5 percent from 19 percent last month.

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