The Vancouver Sun

Renewed sense of gloom over U.S. economy
The vancouver Sun

Americans may be romping to the podium with their typical swagger at the Olympics, but there is none of that optimism back home as U.S. consumer confidence took a surprise dive in February.

A renewed sense of gloom has descended as the stock market rally appears to fizzle, the job market remains stagnant, and worries grow that government spending has spun out of control amid political gridlock in Washington, economists said.

A key index of consumer attitudes dropped 10.5 points to a 10-month low of 46.0 in February, the Conference Board reported. That was well off the 55 reading expected by many on Wall Street.

Some economists said severe winter storms might have been a factor in the unexpected drop, noting that in January 1996 bad weather led to a 10.8-point decline as payrolls and hours worked took at hit.

Nevertheless, consumer confidence is likely to keep stumbling along at deep recession-era levels as Americans continue to worry about pink slips, the struggling economy, and the seeming inability of U.S President Barack Obama and other U.S. lawmakers to set things on the right course, economists said.