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A monthly survey says soaring prices in gas and other household costs pulled down consumer confidence in March.
The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index fell more than expected to 63.4 from a revised 72.0 in February. Economists expected a decline to 65.4, according to FactSet.
The decline reverses five straight months of improvement and raises concern about shoppers' ability and willingness to spend in coming months.
A reading of 90 indicates a healthy economy. The index hasn't approached that level since the recession began in December 2007.
The Conference Board says expectations about inflation rose dramatically. Expectations about income gains soured.