US consumer confidence tumbles amid looming fiscal cliff

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 28, 2012 07:40 hrs

New York, Dec 28 (IANS) US consumer confidence fell sharply in December, as the looming "fiscal cliff" imposed a negative effect on consumer sentiment, the Conference Board said.

The Conference Board's confidence index tumbled to 65.1, down from 71.5 in November, the second straight decline and the lowest level since August, reported Xinhua.

The New York-based private research group Thursday said that the Expectations Index declined sharply to 66.5 from 80.9 while the Present Situation Index increased to 62.8 from 57.4 last month.

"The sudden turnaround in expectations was most likely caused by uncertainty surrounding the oncoming fiscal cliff. A similar decline in expectations was experienced in August of 2011 during the debt ceiling discussions," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

"While consumers are quite negative about the short-term outlook, they are more upbeat than last month about current business and labour market conditions," she added.

According to the report, the percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months declined to 17.6 percent from 21.3 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen increased to 21.5 percent from 15.8 percent.

Consumers' appraisal of the labour market was mixed. Those saying jobs are "plentiful" edged down to 10.3 percent from 11.0 percent, while those saying jobs are "hard to get" declined to 35.6 percent from 37.4 percent.

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