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Confidence in economy wanes: Gallup

Americans overall remain confident about the economy, but optimism waned a bit in mid-February with Gallup's economic confidence index dipping from January levels.

The index, which measures overall consumer confidence, reached an index score of -23 last week, down slightly from -20 a week earlier.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index runs on a scale that ranges from the extreme range of 'negative 100' to 100, with numbers in the negative range suggesting weak consumer confidence overall.

Still, confidence levels today are much improved from last summer when the index hit a low point of -54 during the summer of 2011.

Gallup says recent deterioration in the job market may have led to a minor drop in consumer confidence this month. According to the Gallup economic survey, U.S. unemployment is up to 9% in February. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a January unemployment rate of 8.3%, a drop from the previous month. BLS will report its February figures in early March.

Confidence levels have yet to reach the -18 range that was hit last February, but Tuesday's confidence level is comparable to January 2010 and to the first week of January 2008. It's also well above levels experienced in early 2009 as Wall Street was in the midst of a financial crisis with consumer confidence levels as deep as -65.  

"Americans are far less discouraged about the economy today than they were throughout the second half of 2011, and their confidence continues to recover in 2012," Gallup said.


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