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Consumers cautious about future

NEW YORK — Weighed down by growing anxiety about a lackluster jobs market, consumer confidence tumbled 7.1 percent during August — heading south after four straight months of solid gains — to a current reading of 98.2 from 105.7 in July, The Conference Board reported.

After climbing an impressive 19.4 percent between April and July, confidence levels reversed course and skidded in August as fears about a worsening jobs market gnawed at consumer sentiment, the business think tank reported.

Confidence declined in every region of the nation, and took down consumer buying plans as well. Consumers said that over the past few months they plan to buy fewer homes, cars, carpets and major appliances, and take fewer vacations.

"The slowdown in job growth has curbed consumers’ confidence," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Boards Consumer Research Center. "The level of consumer optimism has fallen off and caution has returned. Until the job market and pace of hiring picks up, this cautious attitude will prevail."