Retail sales fell in March as consumers lost confidence in the economy's… (Victor J. Blue / Bloomberg )
WASHINGTON -- Consumer confidence tumbled sharply this month to its lowest level since July amid a slew of discouraging economic reports and continued gridlock in the nation's capital, according to a leading barometer.
The consumer sentiment reading compiled by Thompson Reuters and the University of Michigan fell to 72.3 in the preliminary reading for April, down from 78.6 last month, Reuters reported Friday.
Economists had expected the reading to stay about the same.
Instead, with recent data indicating a slowdown in the recovery and large federal budget cuts kicking in, consumers expressed more pessimism about the state of the economy and their long-term outlook.
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The survey's reading on consumer views of current economic conditions dropped to 84.8 from 90.7 last month, Reuters said.
The report came after government data showed Friday that retail sales declined 0.4% in March compared with the previous month. It was the biggest drop since June.
Last week, the government reported that the economy added just 88,000 net new jobs in March, a major drop from the previous month and the fewest since June.
Many consumers expect higher unemployment and lower incomes in the coming months, Reuters said.
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