March consumer confidence dips, inflation view up

NEW YORK Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:42am EDT

A woman carries shopping bags at South Park mall in Charlotte, North Carolina November 25, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Keane

A woman carries shopping bags at South Park mall in Charlotte, North Carolina November 25, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Keane

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer confidence dipped in March, while Americans ratcheted up their inflation expectations to the highest level in 10 months, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes eased to 70.2 from an upwardly revised 71.6 the month before. Economists had expected a reading of 70.3, according to a Reuters poll.

February's figure was originally reported as 70.8.

The expectations index fell to 83.0 from 88.4, though the present situation gauge gained to its highest level since September 2008 at 51.0 from 46.4.

The improvement in consumers' view of their present situation suggests that they still feel the economy is not losing momentum, Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement.

Expectations for inflation in the coming 12 months jumped to 6.3 percent from 5.5 percent. It was the highest level since May 2011.

Consumers' labor market assessment was mixed. The "jobs hard to get" index rose to 41.0 percent from 38.6 percent the month before, but the "jobs plentiful" index also rose to 9.4 percent from 7.0 percent.

(Reporting By Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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