NEW YORK Americans' consumer confidence slipped
in the last week of March, bringing its average for the first
quarter near a 15-year low, a report showed on Tuesday.
The ABC News/Washington Post Consumer Comfort Index fell to
-33 in the week ended March 30, from -31 the previous week. The
index ranges from -100 to +100.
In a quarter-to-quarter comparison, the news outlets said
confidence averaged -31 in the first quarter, compared with -2
in the year-ago quarter. It has not been in such a bad shape
since the fourth quarter of 1993, when it reached -33.
Two of the three components of the index fell. Positive
views on the buying climate fell three percentage points to 26
percent and views on the national economy fell one percentage
point to 19 percent. Views on personal finances rose one
percentage point to 56 percent.
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 March 30 and has a margin of error of plus or
minus 3 percentage points.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Dan Grebler)