February 5, 2008 / 10:05 PM / in 10 years

ABC/Wash Post Consumer Comfort Index hits 14-year low

NEW YORK, Feb 5 (Reuters) - The confidence of American consumers fell to the lowest in more than 14 years in the latest week, its month-long decline mirroring those seen before the 1990-1991 and 2001 recessions, a report showed on Tuesday.

The ABC News/Washington Post Consumer Comfort Index dropped to -33 in the week ended Feb. 3, its lowest reading since November 1993. The index was at -27 in the prior week.

The index fell 13 points in the past month, just as it did in the four weeks prior to the 1990-91 recession, and near the 14-point drop preceding the 2001 recession, the news outlets said.

The three components of the index fell as positive views on the national economy dropped 5 percentage points to 22 percent; views on personal finances fell 2 points to 52 percent and those on the buying climate dropped 2 percentage points to 26 percent.

In a separate ABC News/Washington Post poll released earlier this week, 59 percent of Americans said they think the economy is already in a recession.

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 Feb. 3 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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