March 31, 2009 / 2:04 PM / 11 years ago

U.S. consumer confidence barely above record low

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumer confidence rose slightly in March but remained near record lows as the economy remained weak and job prospects grew increasingly uncertain.

The Conference Board’s sentiment index inched up to 26.0 this month from an upwardly revised 25.3 in February. The original February reading of 25 represented an all-time low for the index, which dates back to 1967.

“Apprehension about the outlook for the economy, the labor market and earnings continues to weigh heavily on consumers’ attitudes,” said Lynn Franco, director of the industry group’s Consumer Research Center. “More job losses are on the horizon.”

The survey’s expectations index improved modestly, but perceptions about current conditions worsened from already extremely low levels.

Respondents also showed a strong reluctance to spend money in an uncertain economic environment. Buying intentions for new cars fell to 3.9 percent from 4.7 percent, while the proportion of people saying they were going to purchase a home over the next six months fell to 2.0 percent from 2.3 percent.

Reporting by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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