(AP) NEW YORK - Consumers' confidence in the U.S. economy dropped in March amid higher gas prices, says a private research group. The decline comes after confidence rose to the highest level in a year during the previous month.
The Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 70.2, down from a revised 71.6 in February. Economists surveyed by FactSet expected a reading of 70.
Consumer confidence has made a recovery since it fell to an all-time low of 25.3 in February 2009. But the March reading is below the 90 reading that indicates a healthy economy. The index hasn't been near 90 since December 2007.
Economists watch consumer confidence closely because Americans' spending on things from clothing to health care accounts for about 70 percent of the nation's economic activity.