U.S. Consumer Confidence Falls

Dented by oil prices and market turmoil.

U.S. consumer confidence fell sharply in March, to 107.2 from 111.2 in February, amid a spike in fuel prices and turmoil on global financial markets, the Conference Board said Mach 27.

"Apprehension about the short-term future has suddenly cast a cloud over consumers' confidence," said Lynn Franco, director of consumer research for the Conference Board. "The recent turmoil in financial markets coupled with the run-up in gasoline prices may have contributed to consumers' heightened sense of uncertainty and concern. The direction of both components over the next few months bears watching to determine whether this decline is just a bump in the road or something more substantial."

The report, seen as a gauge of consumer spending, was worse than expected on Wall Street, where analysts had on average expected a figure of 109.

"When you have all the issues facing people, such as skyrocketing gasoline prices, a housing market that seems to be on life support and equity markets that look like yo-yos, you shouldn't be surprised that households are not ecstatic about their current plight," said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors. "Households are indeed not happy about what is happening to them in an economic sense and I suspect that the political issues are not helping."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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