US consumer confidence in September plummeted to 86.6, its lowest point in two years amid fear to Hurricane Katrina's destruction, the Conference Board announced Tuesday.
The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index plunged down from 105.5 in August, while the Present Situation Index decreased to 108.9 from 123.8 and the Expectations Index fell to 71.7 from 93.3 last month.
"Hurricane Katrina, coupled with soaring gasoline prices and a less optimistic job outlook, has pushed consumer confidence to its lowest level in nearly two years (81.7 in October 2003) and created a degree of uncertainty and concern about the short-term future," says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center.
Franco insisted that consumers' confidence should rebound and return to more positive levels by year-end or early 2006, as rebuilding efforts take hold and job growth gains momentum.
Consumers' outlook for the next six months turned considerably pessimistic. Those anticipating business conditions to worsen increased to 19.8 percent from 10.0 percent. Those expecting business conditions to improve declined to 15.3 percent from 18.7 percent.
The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 US households.