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Flagging confidence intensifies economic fears

Americans' outlook on the economy went into relapse in February. Rising job worries sent a key barometer of confidence to its lowest point in 10 months, raising concerns about the economic recovery.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index fell almost 11 points to 46 in February, down from a revised 56.5 in January. Analysts were expecting only a slight decrease to 55.

It was the lowest level since the index recorded a 40.8 reading in April 2009.

The increasing pessimism, which erased three months of improvement, is a big blow to hopes that consumer spending will power an economic recovery. Economists watch the confidence numbers closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity."More than six months after the recovery started, consumer confidence is still close to a record low," said Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics Ltd. "Without a sustained acceleration in consumption growth, this recovery will eventually fade."

One gauge, measuring consumers' assessment of current conditions, dropped to 19.4 from 25.2, the lowest level since 1983. - AP

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