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Chapman: State's consumer confidence slides

The California Composite Index shows increasing pessimism about future economic conditions.

By Kristen SchottPublished: March 09, 2011 10:16 PM

Pessimism is on the upswing among California consumers, particularly when it comes to future economic conditions, according to a new report from Chapman University's A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research.

The quarterly California Composite Index of Consumer Confidence – a shoppers' outlook on economic conditions and spending plans – showed that the factor measuring future sentiments fell to 100.1 last month, down "sharply" from November's reading of 109.1. But, shoppers showed improvements in current economic outlooks and planned spending on big-ticket items. The index for current conditions rose to 80.1, up from 76.9, while the measure for planned purchases rose to 82.9, up from 80.4.

Overall, the Composite Index fell to 88.7 in February, down from 90.5 in November (a reading below 100 points to a greater percentage of pessimistic consumers).

The uptick in negative sentiments could be a result of increasing pain at the pump and the state's budget outlook, according to the report. Stats from the Auto Club of Southern California show that gas prices have been on the rise since the beginning of the year. And, more recently, prices posted one of the biggest one-month jumps in history: The March average cost for a regular gallon of gas is about $3.92, 50 cents more than the February average of $3.41. Currently, the state is the most expensive for gas in the U.S., according to the Auto Club.

However, Chapman's report notes that consumer spending should show improvements over the next six months, "barring any further spikes in gasoline prices."

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