Consumer confidence falls to lowest since September

WASHINGTON -- U.S. consumer confidence fell this month to the lowest level since September. Consumers are worried about the job market and rattled by events in Greece and China.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its index of consumer confidence fell to 90.9 in July from a revised 99.8 in June. That's the lowest reading since September's 89.

Consumers' assessment of current conditions fell slightly to a still-healthy 107.4 from 110.3 in June; but their outlook for next six months dropped sharply to 79.9 this month from 92.8 in June.

Lynn Franco, a Conference Board economist, says consumers may have been worried by the debt standoff in Greece and a stock market plunge in China.

The percentage of consumers describing current business conditions as "good" slipped to 26.1 percent from 24.2 percent.

The percentage expecting the job market to improve over the next six months dropped to 13.1 percent from 17.1 percent in June; the percentage expecting fewer jobs in six months rose to 20 percent from 15.2 percent.

Still, Franco said: "Overall, the index remains at levels associated with an expanding economy and a relatively confident consumer."

The government will report Thursday on gross domestic product during the April-June quarter. The economy contracted 0.2 percent during the first three months of the year, pummeled by winter weather and global economic pressures that caused the dollar to rise in value and hurt the affordability of U.S. made goods abroad.

Economists say that the country likely returned to growth in the second-quarter, expanding at a 2.7 percent annualized pace.

A separate survey of consumer sentiment compiled by the University of Michigan that was released this month showed a preliminary decline in sentiment from June to July.