NEW YORK — Consumer confidence in the U.S. economy took an unexpectedly sharp turn for the worse in February, plummeting to its lowest level since October 1993, as Americans’ economic and geopolitical jitters grew more acute.

The Conference Board’s monthly index of consumer confidence, which is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households, fell for the third consecutive month — this time a whopping 14.8 points to a worse-than-expected 64, from a downwardly revised 78.8 in January — as both consumers’ current and near-term outlooks retreated. Economists, on average, were targeting a drop to 76.5 in February.

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