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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 15:03 GMT
US consumer confidence tumbles
Shoppers in a supermarket
Shoppers are a main stay of the world's largest economies
US consumer confidence has declined for the third month in a row in October to its lowest level in two years.

The Conference Board said on Tuesday that its consumer sentiment index fell more than expected to 95.6 in October down from a revised 99.5 in September.

It fell amid concerns that business conditions were weakening and would have a negative impact on jobs.

The decline is likely to underscore expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates on Wednesday.

Many analysts are now predicting that the Fed will cut interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.5% on Wednesday in order to stimulate the economy.

"The Fed seems to be in tune with the consumer and I expect they will lower interest rates tomorrow and once again before the end of the year," said Georges Yared of Yared Investment research.

Consumer gloom

Continuing market jitters and rising petrol prices have dented confidence in the world's largest economy even after the US central bank lowered the cost of borrowing last month.

Further weakening in business conditions has, yet again, tempered consumers' assessment of current-day conditions
Lynn Franco, The Conference Board Consumer Research Center

"Consumers are definitely getting more gloomy," said Pierre Ellis, senior economist at Decision Economics in New York.

"The question is whether that will be reflected in their spending," he said.

Consumer spending is the biggest contributor of economic growth in the US, accounting for about two-thirds of total annual gross domestic product (GDP).

Tuesday's consumer confidence figures were the lowest reading since the 85.2 registered in October 2005 when gas and oil prices soared after hurricanes Katrina and Rita pummelled the Gulf Coast.

The figures ignited concern that the upcoming holiday shopping season would be lukewarm, and that there may be bad news regarding the labour market.

"Further weakening in business conditions has, yet again, tempered consumers' assessment of current-day conditions," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

"It may very well be a prelude to lacklustre job growth in the months ahead," she added.

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