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Sept. consumer confidence drops

NEW YORK - Consumer confidence slipped slightly in September, with The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index moving to 79.7 from 81.8 in August.
     The Present Situation Index rose to 73.2 from 70.9, while the Expectations Index fell to 84.1 from 89.0 last month (1987=100).
     "Consumer confidence decreased in September as concerns about the short-term outlook for both jobs and earnings resurfaced, while expectations for future business conditions were little changed," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "Consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions, however, was more positive. While overall economic conditions appear to have moderately improved, consumers are uncertain that the momentum can be sustained in the months ahead."
     The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, done for The Conference Board by Nielsen, had a Sept. 13 cutoff date for the preliminary results.
     Consumers' appraisal of present-day conditions improved moderately. Those claiming business conditions are "good" increased to 19.5% from 18.7%, while those claiming business conditions are "bad" decreased to 23.9% from 24.5%.
     Consumers' assessment of the labor market was also more favorable. Those saying jobs are "plentiful" increased slightly to 11.5% from 11.3%, while those saying jobs are "hard to get" decreased to a five-year low of 32.7% from 33.3%.
     Consumers' expectations, which had increased in August, declined in September. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months edged up to 20.9% from 20.6%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen was virtually unchanged at 11.0%.
     Consumers' outlook for the labor market, however, grew more pessimistic. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 16.9% from 17.5%, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 19.7% from 17.2%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined to 15.4% from 17.5%.

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