U.S. consumer confidence falls in March

Consumer confidence decreased in March as consumers became more pessimistic about current economic conditions, according to The Conference Board.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index fell to 59.7 in March from 68 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 fell to 14.4 percent from 18 percent, and those expecting business conditions to worsen increased from 16.6 percent to 18.3 percent.

Additionally, 12.3 percent expect more jobs during the next six months compared with 16.1 percent in February. Those expecting fewer jobs increased from 22.1 percent to 26.6 percent.

"Consumer confidence fell sharply in March following February's uptick," says Lynn Franco, The Conference Board's director of economic indicators. "This month's retreat was driven primarily by a sharp decline in expectations, although consumers also were more pessimistic in their assessment of current conditions. The loss of confidence, particularly expectations, mirrors the losses experienced this past December and January. The recent sequester has created uncertainty regarding the economic outlook and, as a result, consumers are less confident."

Date : 3/28/2013