High Unemployment, Election Uncertainty Point to Nine-Month Low in Consumer Confidence

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Americans chose to pinch their pennies in August as consumer confidence figures tumbled to their lowest level this year.

A new report released this morning by the Conference Board said its index of consumer spending attitudes fell to 60.6 from a downwardly revised 65.4 the month before, the lowest performance since November 2011.

Bloomberg News reports that a combination of factors, including rising gas prices, a jobless rate stubbornly stuck above 8 percent and limited income growth, are keeping people pessimistic about the future economy.

“The consumer is still very cautious,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics Ltd., told Bloomberg. “The labor market is still relatively weak. There’s a lot of uncertainty about policy ahead of the election."

Meanwhile, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index, released this morning, showed home prices rose in June in the first year-over-year increase since the summer of 2010. All 20 cities tracked by the index rose in June from May, the second consecutive time in which every city posted month-over-month gains.

In one more sliver of good news, the number of consumers who expect an increase in their incomes went up to 15.7 percent from 14.2 percent, according to the Index.

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