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Consumer confidence hits 5-year low

Economist: Bleakest outlook since 'Oil Embargo, Watergate'

Consumer confidence took another hit in March, falling to a five-year low, as more Americans expect business conditions and the job market to worsen in the coming months, The Conference Board reported today. The Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 64.5 this month from a reading of 76.4 in February, with the Expectations Index component plummeting to its lowest level since December 1973. "Consumers' confidence in the state of the economy continues to fade and the index remains at a five-year low (March 2003, 61.4). The decline in the Present Situation Index implies that the pace of growth in recent months has weakened even further," Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement. "Looking ahead, consumers' outlook for business conditions, the job market and their income prospects is quite pessimistic and suggests further weakening may be on the horizon. The Expectations Index, in fact, is now at a 35-year low (Dec. ...