American consumer confidence is at its lowest level for nine years, according to the closely watched barometer from the Conference Board.

The research group’s index tumbled from 93.7 in September to just 79.4 in October, the fifth consecutive monthly fall and the lowest reading since 1993 – lower even than after September 11.

Conference Board director Lynn Franco blamed the slump on nose-diving share prices, the prospect of war in Iraq and a weak employment market.

The situation looks unlikely to improve dramatically in the near future, as the index’s future expectations component fell almost 17 points to 80.7.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff