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Consumer Confidence Index dips in September

New York - September was a period retreat for the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, coming in at 48.5 (1985=100) versus 53.2 in August when the index had improved.

Also down were the Present Situation Index, which decreased to 23.1 from 24.9, and the Expectations Index, which went to 65.4 from 72.0 last month.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by custom research company TNS.

The cut-off date for September's preliminary results was September 21.

"September's pull-back in confidence was due to less favorable business and labor market conditions, coupled with a more pessimistic short-term outlook," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Overall, consumers' confidence in the state of the economy remains quite grim. And, with so few expecting conditions to improve in the near term, the pace of economic growth is not likely to pick up in the coming months."

Consumers' assessment of current conditions weakened further in September. Those who business conditions are "bad" increased to 46.1% from 42.3%, while those who claimed business conditions are "good" declined to 8.1% from 8.4%. Consumers' appraisal of the labor market was also less favorable. Those who claimed jobs are "hard to get" rose to 46.1% from 45.5%, while those stating jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 3.8% from 4.0%.

Also worse were consumers' expectations in September. The percentage of those expecting business conditions to deteriorate over the next six months rose to 16.4% from 13.4%, while those anticipating business conditions to improve declined to 14.9% from 16.9%.

Adding to the bad news from the index was consumers' inclination to be more pessimistic about future employment prospects. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead remained essentially unchanged at 14.5% in September, compared to 14.7% in August. However, those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 22.7% from 19.6%. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined slightly to 10.2% from 10.6%.

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