Amid growing anxiety about employment and business prospects, US consumer confidence hit a four-year low in April, according to a key economic indicator from the Conference Board.

The Board’s consumer confidence index, compiled from a survey of 5,000 American households, slipped to 109.2 this month, ending hopes that March’s leap to 116.9 – the first increase for six months – might herald an end to the economic downturn.

Commented Lynn Franco, director of the body’s Consumer Research Center: “The [March] spurt in consumer confidence ended quickly. It’s clear that consumers have begun to worry about employment trends and these concerns are gnawing away at consumer confidence.”

Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the US economy – hence repeated assertions from Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan that such expenditure will influence America’s chances of avoiding a recession. However, sales growth persists, albeit sluggishly, most notably among cars and other high-priced goods dependent on confidence in future earnings prospects.

News source: Financial Times