US consumer confidence hits 2-year low -Conf Board

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NEW YORK, Sept 25 (Reuters) U.S. consumer confidence fell unexpectedly sharply in September to its lowest in nearly two years on growing concerns about jobs and financial market turmoil, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The Conference Board said its index of consumer sentiment fell to 99.8 in September, the lowest since November 2005 and down from 105.6 in August. The median forecast of economists polled by Reuters was for a slip to 104.0.

''Weaker business conditions combined with a less favorable job market continue to cast a cloud over consumers and heighten their sense of uncertainty and concern,'' said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's research center, adding: ''Little economic improvement is expected, and with the holiday season around the corner, this is not welcome news.'' The dollar extended losses versus the euro while U.S.

stocks briefly extended losses and U.S. government bond prices held steady at higher levels after the data's release.

August's headline figure was revised upward from 105.0.

Consumers' assessment of current conditions waned further in September. The business research group's present situation index declined to 121.7 in September from a downwardly revised 130.1 in August. The expectations index slipped to 85.2 in September from an upwardly revised 89.2 in August.

Consumers' expectations for inflation edged lower to 5.0 percent in September from 5.1 percent in August.

Consumers' appraisal of labor market conditions also weakened, the Conference Board said. Those surveyed who said jobs were 'plentiful' declined to 25.7 percent from 27.5 percent, while those who said jobs were 'hard to get' increased to 22.1 percent from 19.7 percent.

REUTERS DKS HT2000

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