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US consumer confidence drops

WASHINGTON, Sept 30 – US consumer confidence fell slightly in September as worries about a tight job market overshadowed improving economic conditions, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.

The consumer confidence index, which had improved in August, dipped in September to 53.1 from 54.5 in August.

The figure was weaker than the 57.0 expected on Wall Street, and suggested consumers may be cautious in resuming spending, which is key to an economic recovery.

"Consumers viewed both current business conditions and the labor market less favorably than last month," said Conference Board research director Lynn Franco.

"While not as pessimistic as earlier this year, consumers remain quite
apprehensive about the short-term outlook and their incomes. With the holiday season quickly approaching, this is not very encouraging news."

Those claiming business conditions are "bad" increased to 46.3 percent from 44.6 percent, while those claiming conditions are "good" increased to 8.7 percent from 8.5 percent.

The survey found consumer fears growing about the job market. Those claiming jobs are "hard to get" increased to 47.0 percent from 44.3 percent, while those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 3.4 percent from 4.3 percent.

Among the sub-indexes, the present situation index decreased to 22.7 from 25.4 and the expectations index fell to 73.3 from 73.8 last month.

The survey "remains consistent with a recessionary economy," said Scott Hoyt at Moody\’s

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Hoyt said it was "disturbing" to see consumer pessimism about the job market and added: "This could foreshadow larger job losses than currently expected."

Friday\’s report on the US job market is expected to show a loss of another 180,000 jobs and the unemployment rate rising from the current 9.7 percent to 9.9 percent.

"The end of the recession should produce a rebound in confidence," said Hoyt.

"However, with consumer fundamentals so weak, that rebound will come only slowly and gradually."

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