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Consumer, business confidence both weaken

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By Anne D'Innocenzio

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans' view of the economy turned grimmer in September amid escalating job worries, falling to the lowest point since February.

The downbeat report was released Tuesday on the same day a survey of CEOs was released that showed dimming optimism about business. The Business Roundtable's poll indicated that executives weren't as optimistic about sales growth as they were in June, suggesting some are putting plans to hire more workers on hold.

The Conference Board, based in New York, said its monthly Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 48.5, down from the revised 53.2 in August. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting 52.5.

The reading marked the lowest point since February's 46.4. It takes a reading of 90 to indicate a healthy economy — a level not approached since the recession began in December 2007.

Economists watch confidence closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity and is critical to a strong rebound.

The index — which measures how shoppers feel about business conditions, the job market and the next six months — had been recovering fitfully since hitting an all-time low of 25.3 in February 2009, but Americans are just as downbeat as they were a year ago.


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