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Consumer confidence wavering

STARKVILLE — Mississippians’ overall confidence in the state’s economy continued to slide in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the latest state Index of Consumer Sentiment.

Moving downhill since June’s peak, the fourth-quarter overall confidence rating dipped to 72.49 percent from 72.86 in the third quarter. This represents an almost four point decline from this past summer’s high of 76.42, according to Rebecca Campbell Smith.

Smith, editor of the Mississippi State University (MSU)-based Economy Watch online business forecaster, said there is some good news in the report, which is available at www.economywatch.msstate.edu.

Of more than 500 state residents surveyed, responses revealed “a more positive evaluation of their current conditions” during the fourth quarter than in the third, Smith observed.

“The state’s consumers did show a current conditions index rating increase of almost 3 percent over the last quarter, rising to 71.22 percent from 68.3,” she said. “On the other hand, the future conditions index showed Mississippians’ continuing pessimism about the state’s economic outlook.”

Consumer expectations for the future slipped almost 2.5 percent from last quarter’s 75.78 to 73.3 percent, the MSU College of Business instructor added.

Smith said consumers’ poor evaluation of their personal finance situations is affecting their optimism, with a higher value being placed on reducing debt.

Data for Economy Watch is produced in cooperation with the MSU Survey Research Laboratory and BankPlus.

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