Consumer confidence plunges in May

Compass and money on graphs iStockphoto

(AP) NEW YORK - Americans' confidence in the economy fell in May to its lowest level in eight months as consumers fretted about slow hiring, a big stock market drop and the global economy, says a private research group.

The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 64.9, down from a revised 68.7 in April. Economists were expecting a reading of 70, according to a FactSet poll of analysts. The current level is below February's 71.6, which is the highest level it's been in a year.

Consumer confidence is widely watched because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

The measure is significantly below the 90 reading that indicates a healthy economy. But the current level is well above the 40 it hit last October.

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