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Consumer confidence plunges in April

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Consumer confidence plunges in April

Consumer confidence unexpectedly tumbled in April as disappointing job growth more than offset still-low gasoline prices. The Conference Board’s closely watched index of consumers’ perceptions fell to 95.2 from 101.4 in March. That’s the lowest reading so far this year and well below economists’ estimate of 102.5. The index had reached a 7 ½ year high of 103.8 in January.635525484466911536-AP-Consumer-Spending-001

“This month’s retreat was prompted by a softening in current conditions, likely sparked by the recent lackluster performance of the labor market, and apprehension about the short-term outlook,” said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s director of economic indicators. “Coupled with waning expectations, there is little to suggest that economic momentum will pick up in the months ahead.” Regular gasoline prices have risen to $2.54 a gallon from $2.43 a month ago but that’s still well below the year-ago price of $3.70, according to AAA’s daily fuel gauge report.

But monthly job growth slowed to just 126,000 in March, lowest since December 2013. Many economists say the disappointing total was likely a blip caused partly by extreme winter weather. Still, the sluggish labor market appeared to darken the short-term outlook of many Americans. The share anticipating more jobs in the next six months fell to 13.8% from 15.3%, while those expecting fewer jobs rose to 16.3% from 13.6%. The portion expecting business conditions to worsen rose to 9.4% from 8.1%. Perceptions of current conditions also slipped, with the portion saying jobs are “plentiful” sliding to 19.1% from 21%. The share saying jobs are “hard to get” increased to 26.4% from 25.5%.

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