March 29 U.S. consumers in March were considerably less confident about the economic outlook than they were in February, according to two recent surveys.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index fell 8.6 points this month, from 72 in February to this month's 63.4 reading.
Last week, the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index dropped 10 points, to 77.5 from February's 67.5.
Falling expectations led the decline in both indices. However, the consumers' assessment of current conditions remained stronger, rising slightly from the previous month in The Conference Board survey, declining slightly in the Reuters/University of Michigan reading.
According to Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, "The sharp decline in confidence was prompted by a sharp decline in expectations. Consumers' inflation expectations rose significantly in March and their income expectations soured, a combination that will likely impact spending decisions. On the other hand, consumers' assessment of current conditions improved, indicating that while the short-term future may be uncertain, the economy continues to expand."
Other sources attributed the decline in consumer expectation to the turmoil in Libya and the ongoing crisis in Japan.