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CALIFORNIA | BRIEFLY / THE ECONOMY

Consumer Confidence Slips to 5-Month Low

March 29, 2000|Reuters

Consumer confidence in the booming U.S. economy slipped in March to its lowest level in five months as a slowdown in the mighty American jobs machine dented optimism, the Conference Board said. The consumer confidence index, a key gauge of future economic activity, fell for the second straight month to reach 136.7, down from 140.8 in February but still at historically high levels. "There is just a little bit of concern," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "Analysts are waiting to see if a further erosion in confidence triggers a slowdown in consumer spending." Wall Street analysts said the dip is not sharp enough to suggest a cooling of the rambunctious consumer. Consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead jumped to 11.3%, up from 9.5% in February. Income prospects also were gloomier with 24% of those surveyed expecting their incomes to rise, down from 25.8% the previous month. The "expectations" index fell to 106.2 from a revised 114.6 reading in February, while the "current conditions" gauge rose to 182.4 in March from a revised 180.1.

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