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Consumer confidence lowest in 10 years

New York — With Americans spooked by war talk, concerned about their jobs, rattled by an unsettled stock market and now paying higher prices at the pump, consumer confidence went into free-fall in February, plunging to its lowest level in 10 years.

The Conference Board reported that its widely watched barometer of consumer spending as well as sentiment dropped by 18.8 percent last month to a reading of 64.0 from 78.8 in January, catching analysts and economists by surprise with the steepness of the decline.

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