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Consumer Confidence Takes Another Hit

By Staff and Wire Service Reports

Worries about the job picture and continued economic weakness clouded consumer confidence in July, according to preliminary figures. Confidence declined for the second straight month, imparting a worrisome aspect to hopes that consumer spending will help lead the nation out of recession.

The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index slipped to 46.6 in July, down from 49.3 in June. Analysts had expected the index to be unchanged from June's reading. It would take a reading above 90 to signal that the economy is on solid footing.

"Consumer confidence, which had rebounded strongly in late spring, has faded in the last two months," Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a news release. "More consumers are pessimistic about their income expectations, which does not bode well for spending in the months ahead."

The back-to-back monthly declines follow an upswing in confidence this past spring, fueled by a stock market rally.

Economists closely monitor confidence because consumer spending accounts for more than 70% of economic activity.

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