Consumer confidence drops in February

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The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined sharply in February and now stands at 46, down from 56.5 in January.

"Consumer Confidence, which had been improving over the past few months, declined sharply in February," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement.

"Concerns about current business conditions and the job market pushed the Present Situation Index down to its lowest level in 27 years (17.5 in February 1983). Consumers' short-term outlook also took a turn for the worse, with fewer consumers anticipating an improvement in business conditions and the job market over the next six months," Franco said. "Consumers also remain extremely pessimistic about their income prospects. This combination of earnings and job anxieties is likely to continue to curb spending."

Consumers saying conditions are "good" decreased to 6.2 percent from 8.5 percent this month, while those claiming business conditions are "bad" increased to 46.3 percent from 44.7 percent.

Consumers' assessment of the labor market was also more pessimistic. Those saying jobs are "hard to get" rose to 47.7 percent from 46.5 percent, while those saying jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 3.6 percent from 4.4 percent.

Consumers' short-term outlook, which had been improving, lost ground in February. The percentage of consumers anticipating an improvement in business conditions over the next six months decreased to 16.7 percent from 20.7 percent, while those anticipating conditions will worsen increased to 15.3 percent from 12.7 percent.