Consumer views of economy at 14-yr low: report

NEW YORK Tue Apr 8, 2008 5:02pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - American consumer confidence slipped in the latest week as views on the U.S. economy hit a 14-year low, a report showed on Tuesday.

The ABC News/Washington Post Consumer Comfort Index fell to -34 in the week ended April 6, from -33 the previous week. The index ranges from -100 to +100.

"The number of Americans who rate the economy positively is 23 points below its long-term average, and down 14 points just this year," the report said. At 17 percent, the reading was at its lowest since November 14, 1993.

Earlier on Tuesday, Investor's Business Daily and TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence said their IBD/TIPP economic optimism index fell to 39.2 in April, the worst result in the index's seven-year history and well below the 50 level that separates pessimism from optimism.

Two of the three components of the ABC/Post index fell, with positive views on the buying climate down one percentage point to 25 percent and views on the national economy off two percentage points to 17 percent. Views on personal finances rose one percentage point to 57 percent.

"Continued signs of an economic downturn are worrying consumers: (Gasoline prices) climbed 4 cents to a new nominal record of $3.33 a gallon this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a worse-than-expected March jobs report and unemployment reached its highest since September 2005," the news outlets said.

Confidence measures are generally viewed as a barometer of consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the U.S. economy. However, economists note that consumers do not always act in accordance with their statements to surveys.

The ABC/Washington Post consumer confidence survey was based on a sample of about 1,000 interviews conducted in the four weeks ending April 6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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