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Low Expectations Weigh Down Consumer Confidence

Consumer confidence dipped in September as Americans expressed doubt over the current direction of economic conditions.

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""The Conference Board's"":http://www.conference-board.org/ Consumer Confidence Index, which picked up to 81.8 in August following a drop the month prior, fell to 79.7 for September, the association reported.

""Consumer Confidence decreased in September as concerns about the short-term outlook for both jobs and earnings resurfaced, while expectations for future business conditions were little changed,"" said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board.

The Present Situation Index grew to 73.2 from 70.9, reflecting moderate gains in consumers' perceptions of business and labor conditions.

According to the Conference Board, the number of those claiming business conditions are ""good"" increased to 19.5 percent, while those claiming conditions are ""bad"" dropped to 23.9 percent. On the jobs front, 11.5 percent of respondents said jobs are ""plentiful"" (up from 11.3 percent), while 32.7 percent said jobs are ""hard to get""--a five-year low.

Expectations for the next six months were more pessimistic, meanwhile, with the Expectations Index falling to 84.1 from August's 89.0--dragged down mostly by negative forecasts for labor.

The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve in the next half-year edged up to 20.9 percent from 20.6 percent, while those expecting conditions to worsen was flat at 11.0 percent.

Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 16.9 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs grew 2.5 percentage points to 19.7 percent. Americans were also less confident regarding their own financial outlook: The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined to 15.4 percent from 17.5 percent in the last index.

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