U.S. consumer confidence falls in March

Consumer confidence decreased in March as consumers became less optimistic about the short-term outlook for business conditions and the labor market, according to The Conference Board.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index decreased to 70.2 in March from 71.6 in February. A reading of 90 or higher indicates a healthy economy.

The index measures how shoppers feel about business conditions, the job market and the next six months. Economists watch the index closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity and is a crucial part of a strong rebound.

Those expecting business conditions to improve during the next six months rose to 19.2 percent from 18.9 percent. However, those expecting business conditions to worsen increased from 11.8 percent to 13.5 percent.

Additionally, 17.3 percent expect more jobs during the next six months compared with 18.8 percent in February, and those expecting fewer jobs rose from 16.4 percent to 18.3 percent.

"Consumer confidence pulled back slightly in March after rising sharply in February," says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "The moderate decline was due solely to a less favorable short-term outlook, while consumers' assessment of current conditions, on the other hand, continued to improve. The present situation index now stands at its highest level in three and a half years, suggesting that despite this month's dip in confidence, consumers feel the economy is not losing momentum."

Date : 4/2/2012