US con­sumer con­fi­dence slides in April


U.S. con­sumer con­fi­dence fell this month to the low­est level in four months, knocked down by a slow­down in hir­ing.

The Con­fer­ence Board says its con­sumer con­fi­dence in­dex fell to 95.2 in April from 101. 4 in March, the low­est read­ing since De­cem­ber’s 93.1.

Con­sumers’ as­sess­ment of cur­rent eco­nomic con­di­tions fell for the third straight month, and their ex­pec­ta­tions for the fu­ture fell as well.

Lynn Franco, the Con­fer­ence Board’s direc­tor of eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors, blamed “the re­cent lack­lus­ter per­for­mance of the la­bor mar­ket.” The Amer­i­can econ­omy gen­er­ated just 126,000 jobs last month, break­ing a 12-month streak of at least 200,000 new jobs a month; 31 states reg­is­tered job losses in March.

Con­sumers’ view of the cur­rent job mar­ket de­te­ri­o­rated in April. They were also more likely to say that there would be fewer jobs and that their own in­comes would be lower in six months. The share say­ing they planned to buy a car or a ma­jor ap­pli­ance within six months fell. The decline in con­fi­dence hit all age groups.

Also weigh­ing on con­sumers’ spir­its: Gaso­line prices, which tum­bled to a na­tion­wide av­er­age low of US$2.03 a gal­lon in late Jan­uary, have bounced back up to US$2.55 a gal­lon, ac­cord­ing to AAA. That may be damp­en­ing the de­sire and abil­ity of Amer­i­cans to go shop­ping. Still, gaso­line prices were more than a US$1 higher, or US$3.70, a year ago.

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