Industry News

Consumer confidence turns south

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The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in January, declined in February, as Americans grew more wary about jobs and the economy. The Index now stands at 101.7, down from 106.8 in January. The present situation index rose to 129.3 from 128.8. The expectations index, however, fell to 83.3 from 92.1 last month. "The present situation index continues to hold steady at a four-and-a-half-year high (August 2001, 144.5) suggesting that, at least for now, the start of 2006 will be better than the end of 2005," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "However, consumers are growing increasingly concerned about the short-term health of the economy and, in turn, about job prospects. The expectations index is now at its lowest level in three years (March 2003, 61.4), excluding the two months following Hurricane Katrina. If expectations continue to lose ground, the outlook for the remainder of 2006 could deteriorate." Consumer...