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Consumer confidence falters

New York – With Americans growing increasingly fearful about the outlook for jobs, consumer confidence tumbled by almost 7% in August, skidding down to its lowest level in 9 months and reaching a new low for the year and the past 13 months, The Conference Board reported.

The bellwether gauge of how Americans are feeling – and how likely they are to keep spending money, a major driver of the U.S. economy – fell 6.9% to a reading of 99.6, down from 107.0 in July.

With higher gas and interest prices, and now increasing job woes making consumers fretful about their future income prospects, confidence levels have now fallen by 9.3% from a 13-month high of

109.8 put up only four months ago, in April.

"Consumer confidence lost significant ground in August and is now at its lowest level this year," said Lynn Franco, director of the business think tank's Consumer Research Center. "Less favorable business conditions coupled with a less favorable job scenario have resulted in the largest one-month decline in confidence since Hurricane Katrina last year."

The outlook for the next 6 months grew more negative as well, with the number of consumers who expect business conditions to worsen increasing substantially, to 12.9% from 10.9% in July.

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