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Florida consumer confidence falls as rebates end

Florida consumer confidence tumbled substantially in May as enthusiasm about tax rebates ended and worry about the broader economy took hold.

The confidence index measured through a University of Florida poll fell 7 points to 71, reflecting a relatively low level of optimism.

Chris McCarty, director of UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said the drop was expected as both the home buying and energy-efficient tax rebate programs ended. When the programs were in place in April, consumer confidence had temporarily jumped 7 points.

The sharpest drop came in expectations for U.S. economic conditions over the next year, which plummeted 14 points to 68. Stock market turmoil and concern about the impact of the gulf oil spill probably played into rising pessimism, McCarty said.

The index, based on a telephone survey, is benchmarked to 1966, meaning a reading of 100 would reflect the same level of consumer confidence as that year.

Separately, a national measure of consumer confidence rose for the third straight month amid increased optimism that the job market is improving.

The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose higher than expected to 63.3, up from a revised 57.7 reading in April.

Economists watch consumer confidence trends closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Florida consumer confidence falls as rebates end 05/25/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 8:01pm]
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