NEW YORK — Consumer confidence paralleled the stock market in July, dragging the monthly measure of public economic sentiment to its third biggest drop in the past 12 months and its lowest reading since February, and placing spending for the second half at greater risk of a downturn.

The Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence, which is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households, fell a worse-than-expected 9.2 points this month to 97.1 from a downwardly revised 106.3 in June. July’s decline does not include the equity markets’ extreme volatility between July 19 and 22. The reading dropped 11.7 points in October and 17 points in September 2001. February’s mark was 95.0.

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