Byline: Carol Emert

WASHINGTON--Consumer confidence fell in September for the third consecutive month, but remains at a level "always associated with a lively and expanding economy," said Fabian Linden, director of Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. The board's index reached 88.4 on a benchmark of 100 based on a survey of 5,000 households. The index has fallen 4.1 points since June when it hit 92.5. Linden described the drop as "very small." Most of the decline was seen in consumers' assessments of the present, which fell to 87.8 in September from 91.7 in August. Expectations for the future fell to 88.8 from 89.4. It was unclear from the survey why consumer confidence is falling, but interest rates, Haiti or other factors could be fueling the pessimism.
"People are beginning to pick up some kind of vibes before they come full flesh into the statistical arena," Linden said. The number of consumers who consider business conditions to be good dropped in September to 19.7 percent from 21.2 percent. Those who said business conditions are bad rose to 21.3 percent from 19.6 percent. Those who believe conditions are normal tallied 59 percent in September, compared with 59.2 percent in August. In addition, 17.5 percent of households surveyed believe business conditions will improve six months down the road, up from 17.1 percent in August. And 10.8 percent believe conditions will worsen, up from 9.1 percent last month. Forecasts about personal income were mixed in September. Fewer people said they expect to have higher incomes six months from now, but fewer also expect their incomes to fall. In September, 20.2 percent of households said their incomes will be higher in half a year, down from 20.9 percent in August.
The number expecting a lower income fell to 8.4 percent from 9.3 percent.
--Fairchild News Service

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