NEW YORK (AP) - Soaring gas prices and weakening job prospects
made shoppers gloomier about the economy in May, sending a key
barometer of consumer sentiment to its lowest level in almost 16
The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday that its
Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 57.2, down from a revised 62.8
in April. Economists surveyed by Thomson Financial/IFR had expected
a reading of 60.
The May reading marks the fifth straight month of decline and is
the lowest since the index registered 54.6 in October 1992.
Economists closely watch sentiment readings since consumer
spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation's economic
"Weakening business and job conditions coupled with growing
pessimism about the short-term future have further depleted
consumers' confidence in the overall state of the economy," Lynn
Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research
Center, said in a statement.
Franco said consumers' worries about inflation, fueled by
increasing prices at the pump, are now at an "all-time high" and
are likely to rise further in the months ahead. She added that
based on consumers' outlook on the economy, she believes there's
little likelihood of a turnaround in sentiment in the next few
The Conference Board's index that measures shoppers' current
assessment of economic conditions declined to 74.4 in May from 81.9
in April. The index that gauges their outlook over the next six
months declined to 45.7 from 50.0 in April.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)