NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Consumer confidence fell to a four-month low last week as discouraging news about rising gasoline prices and a disappointing job market dampened sentiment, a published report said Tuesday.
The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort index fell to -18 in the week ended March 7, 2004. That's two percentage points lower than the previous week and a 5-point decline in the last 2 weeks.
Earlier Tuesday, Investor's Business Daily and TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence said their economic optimism index fell to 54.5 in March from 56.5 in February and a 22-month peak of 60.6 in January. A reading above 50 indicates optimism.
The ABC/Money index, composed of ratings of the national economy, buying climate and personal finances, has averaged -9 since the weekly poll began in December 1985.
Measured separately, views on the national economy fell 2 percentage points from the prior week, as 31 percent of those surveyed said the economy is in excellent or good shape. The best figure in this category was 80 percent, on Jan. 16, 2000, while the worst levels occurred in late 1991 and early 1992.
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Opinions on personal finance also fell, as 55 percent of those polled said their finances are in excellent or good shape, down from 56 percent in the week ended Feb. 29. The best was reached on Aug. 30, 1998 and Jan., 2000 with 70 percent, while the worst was recorded on March 14, 1993 with 42 percent.
Also, 37 percent of those asked said it is an excellent or good time to buy things they want or need, unchanged from last week. The best was recorded on Jan. 16, 2000 with 57 percent and the worst was 20 percent in Fall 1990.
The weekly ABC/Money poll is based on 1,000 interviews conducted in the month ending March 7, 2004, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.