NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Consumer confidence continued to fade last week, following a brief spike during the war in Iraq.
The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index, based on ratings of current economic conditions, stands at -24 on a scale of positive-100 to negative-100 for the week ended May 11. The index surged by 13 points from March 23 through April 20, reaching a seven-month high.
Confidence followed a similar course in 1991, soaring briefly after the Gulf War then retreating as the victory faded and economic distress reasserted itself.
Twenty-seven percent of Americans rate the nation's economy as excellent or good, down from 29 percent the previous week. The poll's lowest level of economic confidence, 7 percent, was set in late 1991 and early 1992.
People's optimism for their own finances slipped two percent, as 52 percent of respondents rate their own finances as excellent or good versus 54 percent the week prior. This is still well above the lowest level of confidence recorded in this category, which was set at 42 percent in March 1993.
The survey's buying gauge, which measures consumers' willingness to spend, dipped slightly. Thirty-five percent say it's an excellent or good time to buy things they want and need, down from 36 the previous week. Consumers reported their lowest level of buying confidence in the fall of 1990 when the ratings in this category stood at 20 percent.
Confidence is higher among those likely to support the Bush administration. It peaks at +7 among Republicans, compared with -29 among independents and -43 among Democrats.
The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index represents a rolling average based on telephone interviews with a random sample of about 1,000 adults nationwide each month. This week's results are based on 1,001 interviews in the week ended May 11, 2003, and have an error margin of plus or minus three percentage points.