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WASHINGTON: US consumers were gloomier about the state of the American economy in November, likely due to a rise in gas prices and as recession risks loom, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The closely-watched consumer confidence index dipped to 100.2 in November, down two points from the month before, in a second straight month of decline, said think tank The Conference Board.

“Consumers’ expectations regarding the short-term outlook remained gloomy,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.

The drop in consumer confidence this month, in line with analyst expectations, was “most likely prompted by the recent rise in gas prices,” she said.

Data on consumers’ short-term outlook suggests the likelihood of a recession remains elevated as well.

“Inflation expectations increased to their highest level since July, with both gas and food prices as the main culprits,” Franco said.

Consumer inflation in the United States has been hovering at the highest level in decades, prompting the Federal Reserve to take aggressive steps to raise interest rates and cool the economy.

The central bank walks a tightrope trying to bring down surging costs while avoiding tipping the world’s biggest economy into a downturn.

For now, consumer intentions to buy homes, automobiles and big-ticket appliances have moderated.

“The combination of inflation and interest rate hikes will continue to pose challenges to confidence and economic growth into early 2023,” Franco said.

But with inflation showing signs of easing and central bankers noting it would take time for policy effects to be realized, a growing number of voices including Fed officials have advocated for smaller steps in the coming months.

The consumer sentiment reading “remains depressed compared to pre-pandemic” levels, said economist Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics.

Overall, measures of sentiment “are sending a negative signal about household spending,” even if consumption continues to support growth for now, she added.

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