US: Consumer confidence down in June image

Confidence among U.S. consumers dropped in June for a fourth consecutive month. Americans can’t seem to shake their uneasy feeling about the economy.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to 62.0 in June, its weakest level since January.

The research firm revised the May reading a half-point lower to 64.4 on the 100-point index.

Rob Carnell, chief international economist at ING, noted that there is “some evidence that the looming fiscal cliff is beginning to weigh on household sentiment.”

“Such confidence readings are consistent with a much weaker rate of real personal spending growth than the 2.7% rate recorded in [the first quarter],” he added.

Estimates for consumer confidence ranged from 58 to 66.8 in the Bloomberg survey of 69 economists. The measure averaged 53.7 during the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009.

“The employment situation continues to weigh on consumer minds,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, a U.S. economist at BNP Paribas in New York, who correctly forecast the confidence index. “Usually consumers react to falling gasoline prices by increasing their spending, but this time around it looks like they’re a little bit cautious.”

According to TrueCar, new car sales this month will hit 1.2 million units – down 6.9 percent from May. TrueCar expects all of the major players to show declines from May’s totals.

However, many analysts say they are confident that United States sales for all of 2012 will surpass 14 million vehicles, a target that seemed overly optimistic several months ago. In contrast, industry sales (new vehicles ) were 12.8 million last year and 10.4 million in 2009.