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Consumer Confidence Fell Sharply in March

A measure of consumer confidence dropped in March as the new coronavirus pandemic gathered steam in the U.S., according to survey data released Tuesday.

The Conference Board, a private research group, said its index of consumer confidence sank to 120.0 in March from a revised 132.6 in February. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a reading of 110.0.

The index’s decline signals a darkening of consumers’ outlook as the coronavirus began to have a widespread impact on the economy, said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

“March’s decline in confidence is more in line with a severe contraction — rather than a temporary shock — and further declines are sure to follow,” she said.

This month’s consumer confidence data are based on survey responses collected March 1-19. During that period, the number of identified U.S. coronavirus cases and deaths grew and government authorities across the country started shutting down commercial activities and encouraging Americans to stay home.

The drop in the headline index was driven by a slump in consumers’ short-term outlook, which plummeted to 88.2 in March, from a revised 108.1 in February. The index of consumers’ views on present conditions declined by much less, slipping to 167.7 from a revised 169.3 the previous month.
Source: Dow Jones

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