U.S. Consumer Confidence Plunges to All-time Low

Only a modest recovery is expected in the second half of 2009

Amid the rapidly deepening recession and the outlook for the next six months which is "quite dismal," the Conference Board said on Dec. 30 that U.S. consumer confidence plunged to a historic low.

The Conference Board index tumbled to 38% in December from 44.7% in November due to the deteriorating economic conditions in the fourth quarter. The present situation index "is now close to levels last seen in the months following the 1990-91 recession, but is not as low as levels reached during the 1981-82 recession" when unemployment was high, Lynn Franco, research director at the Conference Board, said.

The expectations index, the other sub-index, slid to 43.8 from 46.2 in November, but was sharply higher than the 35.7 October reading.

"Both sub-indexes bear careful watching over the next several months to see if they are starting to show signs of approaching a bottom," Franco said. "In the meantime, however, the overall economic outlook remains quite dismal for the first half of 2009, and only a modest recovery is expected in the second half."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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