Consumer confidence slides

Jan. 31, 2012 at 12:35 PM
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NEW YORK, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Consumer confidence in the United States retreated in January after two months of gains, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The index hit a two-year low in August, then posted gains in September, November and December, sliding a touch in October.

In January, the index dropped from 64.8 to 61.1, the Conference Board said.

The index uses 1985 as a base year, assigning it a value of 100.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Index is based on a survey of 5,000 households.

"Consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions turned more downbeat and is back to November 2011 levels," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement.

"Regarding the short-term outlook, consumers are more upbeat about employment, but less optimistic about business conditions and their income prospects," Franco said.

Franco said rising gasoline prices "may have consumers feeling a little less confident this month."

The average price of unleaded gasoline has jumped from $3.378 a month ago to $3.433 Tuesday morning, AAA said.

In January, the number of respondents to the survey indicating economic conditions were "good" fell from 16.3 percent to 13.3 percent. The percentage of respondents indicating conditions were "bad" rose from 33.5 percent to 38.7 percent.

Consumers were also less confident about jobs. The percentage of respondents indicating jobs were "plentiful" fell from 6.6 percent to 6.1 percent while the number indicating jobs were "hard to get" rose from 41.6 percent to 43.5 percent.

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