Consumer Confidence Skids

The weakening jobs picture sends August's Conference Board reading back below 100.
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Lingering concerns about the job market, geopolitical turmoil and soaring energy prices did unexpected harm to consumer confidence in August, according to a report from an independent economic watchdog.

The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index dropped for the first time since April, and far more than expected. The index fell 7.5 points to 98.2 from its revised reading of 105.7 in July, down from the previously reported 106.1. Economists on Wall Street were expecting a smaller decline to 103.4.

The research group said the impact of disappointing job growth in the economy was the main reason for the weak number.

"The slowdown in job growth has curbed consumers' confidence," Lynn Franco, director of consumer research with the Conference Board, said in a statement. "The level of consumer optimism has fallen off and caution has returned. Until the job market and pace of hiring picks up, this cautious attitude will prevail."

Among individual components in the index, the present-situation index, measuring assessments of current economic conditions, fell to 100.7 from 106.4 the month before. Consumer expectations for the state of economic activity over the next six months also dropped, to 96.6 from 105.3.

On the employment front, the jobs-plentiful index fell to its lowest level since May, down 1.6 points to 18.1. Expectations for more jobs over the next six months also slipped. That index fell to 16.2, the lowest reading since March, from 19.5 the month before.