Consumer confidence has weakened significantly as Americans worry about less-favorable business conditions and job prospects.
The New York-based Conference Board says in a report released on Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index plunged in February to 75.0 from a revised 87.3 in January.
The reading _ the lowest since the index registered 64.8 in February 2003 _ is far below the 83.0 analysts expected.
The index measures how consumers feel now about the economy. It has been weakening since July, suggesting that wary consumers may retrench financially, which could fatigue the economy further.