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Trade association index sees further drop in consumer confidence

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Consumer confidence in the economy has dropped for the fifth consecutive month, according to a trade association survey.

The Arlington-based Consumer Electronics Association said its CEA Index of Consumer Expectations fell to its lowest level since the group began tracking consumer sentiment in January 2007. The index stood at 156.8 in September, down two points from last month and six and a half points below this time last year.

“Sentiment took another step down in September as deep drops in equity prices stymied any hope of a return of consumer optimism,” Shawn DuBravac, CEA’s chief economist and director of research, said in a statement. “The ensuing European debt crisis and the news of additional quantitative easing have consumers mired in uncertainty.”

Consumer interest in technology also fell in September. After strong gains during the previous month, the CEA Index of Consumer Technology Expectations, which measures consumer expectations about technology spending, dropped two and a half points to 81.9. The index is at its lowest level since May 2011 but remains one point higher than this time last year.

DuBravac said CEA’s indixes have been very consistent, predicting a decline in the economy well in advance of other indicators.

“Consumer sentiment has fallen throughout the year as the economic picture has weakened, but a dichotomy continues to exist between consumer sentiment and consumer behavior,” DuBravac said. “While consumers continue to lower their household debt levels and avoid making some large purchases, retail sales and consumer spending have held up. Some segments of consumer tech, like tablet computing, continue to garner consumer dollars.”

The Consumer Electronics Association is a trade association with more than 2,000 member companies involved in the $190 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry.

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