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Aug 30, 2011 11:26 AM by Trovette Tottress

Plunge in consumer confidence sends stocks lower

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are falling after consumer confidence dropped in August to its lowest level since April 2009.

The Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index fell 15 points to 44.5. That was far lower than economists had predicted.

A reading above 90 indicates the economy is on solid footing; above 100 signals strong growth. Economists watch the numbers closely because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Wild swings in the stock market this month have put consumers on edge. That's a worrisome sign for the economy and for retailers, who depend on the back-to-school shopping season for as much as 25 percent of their annual revenue.

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