U.S. consumer confidence fell to a new 9-year low as renewed war fears and rising oil prices dampened faith in the Bush administration's handling of the economy, a report said. ABC News/Money Magazine said its weekly Consumer Confidence index staged one of its largest one-week drop ever to -27 in the week ended Jan. 19 from an already shaky -21. "Consumer confidence is quite vulnerable to oil and gasoline prices, and oil prices have risen to a two-year high," the report said, noting that the last time its confidence index was this low was in December 1993.
The survey also noted that a separate ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that, for the first time in his presidency, a majority of Americans (53 percent) disapprove of President George W. Bush's handling of the economy. Twenty-four percent of Americans who participated in the ABC/Money poll rated the economy in a positive light, down from 26 percent in the previous week.
The survey's buying climate gauge, showed that only 34 percent of Americans think now is a good time to spend their cash, an ominous sign for crucial consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. Consumers are also credited for keeping the country's financial juices flowing during the most recent downturn.
Most Americans (52 percent) still rate their personal finances positively, but that component of the index also fell, from 55 percent in the previous week. ABC/Money said the results reflected the result of 1,008 interviews in the month ending Jan. 19, with an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points. (Reuters)
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