April 11, 2008 / 2:32 PM / 11 years ago

US April consumer confidence slumps to 26-year low

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumer confidence fell to its lowest in more than a quarter century in early April, diving deeper into recessionary territory on heightened worries over inflation and jobs, a survey showed on Friday.

The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said its preliminary index of confidence fell to 63.2 in April from 69.5 in March, well below economists’ median expectation of a slight fall to 69.0, according to a Reuters poll.

The April result is the lowest since March 1982’s level of 62.0, when the “stagflationary” period of low growth and high inflation was still fresh in the memory of many Americans.

Near-term inflation expectations measured by the survey jumped to the highest since the turmoil following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in late 1990, which caused oil prices to rise sharply.

“It’s really bad,” Carl Lantz, interest rate strategist at Credit Suisse in New York, said about the report.

“It confirms what we already know now that we are in a consumer-led recession, and it’s going to be a pretty protracted one.”

On Wall Street, stocks .DJI .IXIC .SPX extended their losses and the dollar fell further versus the yen JPY=.

Government bond prices US10YT=RR, which generally benefit from weak economic data, briefly extended their gains.

The report’s reading of one-year inflation expectations jumped to 4.8 percent — the highest since a similar reading in October 1990 — from 4.3 percent in March.

Five-year inflation expectations rose to 3.1 percent — the highest since December 2007 — from 2.9 percent in March.

The index of expectations for personal finances fell to 97, the lowest since April 1980 when it was 94, from 112 in March.

The index of current personal finances fell to 87, its lowest since November 1982, when it was 85, from 93 in March.

“The April loss was due to rising inflation and shrinking income gains,” the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said in a statement.

“There have only been a dozen other surveys that have recorded a lower level of consumer sentiment in the more than 50-year history of the survey.”

Additional Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by James Dalgleish

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