As consumer confidence has fallen, retail sales have "hit a brick… (Scott Eells / Bloomberg…)
WASHINGTON -- Consumer confidence has fallen to its lowest level of the year this month as discouraging economic news here and abroad erodes Americans' view of the recovery.
The preliminary reading for July from the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers fell to 72 from June's figure of 73.2, the second straight monthly decline, Reuters reported Friday.
Economists surveyed separately by Bloomberg had expected the confidence reading to tick up to 73.5.
The index was dragged down by worsening expectations among respondents about economic conditions in general and their own personal finances over the next six months.
"The greatest concern to consumers is that wage and job growth will remain depressed over the foreseeable future, and that these meager gains are likely to be further diminished in the years ahead by rising taxes and benefit cutbacks," Richard Curtin, the survey's director, said in a statement to Reuters.
Lowered consumer confidence is already showing up in sluggish spending. Retail sales in June were up just 0.1%, the smallest increase in nearly two years.
"This is not a good report," said Chris G. Christopher Jr., senior principal economist at IHS Global Insight, who added that retail sales have "hit a brick wall."
"Americans are worried about their economic and financial well-being," he said. "The first quarter of the year was promising; the second quarter has been disappointing. And, as we enter the back-to-school season, things do not seem so bright."
[For the record, July 13, 3:10 p.m.: An earlier version of the post said June's consumer confidence figure was 73.5. It was 73.2.]
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