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Consumer confidence falls further in October

New York — Americans already made anxious by terrorist attacks, and now growing wary about widespread layoffs and rising unemployment, turned and ran for cover during October, with consumer confidence sinking for a fourth straight month and falling to its lowest level in years, The Conference Board reported.

After plummeting 14.9 percent in September, consumer confidence dropped by another 11.9 percent in October, to a current reading of 85.5 (1985=100), its lowest reading since February 1994.

"The economic outlook is becoming increasingly pessimistic, with consumer sentiment continuing to fall," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "Widespread layoffs and rising unemployment do not signal a rebound in confidence anytime soon. With the holiday season approaching, there is little positive stimuli on the horizon."

Weighing current economic conditions, Americans are far less positive than they were in September, the business think tank reported. Those who called current business conditions "bad" rose to 20.6 percent from 18.3 percent a month ago. And those who said jobs are "hard to get" climbed to 20.7 percent from 18.1 percent the prior month.

Looking ahead, consumers are just as antsy about what the next six months hold in store. Consumers' outlook for the next six months continued to deteriorate, with those expecting business conditions to worsen rising sharply, to 20.3 percent from 15.8 percent in September. But not everyone is a pessimist, and those expecting an improvement in business conditions increased to 18.0 percent from 15.7 percent.

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