In the 12-month period through February, consumer prices rose 4 percent, a moderation from the 4.3 percent gain registered in January and the smallest year-over-year increase since last October, according to department officials.
Consumer Confidence Dips
The surveys' index of confidence slipped to 70.5 in early March from the final February reading of 70.8. Economists polled by Reuters had predicted a lower figure of 69.0.
"There was nearly unanimous agreement among consumers that the economy was now in recession," said Richard Curtin, director of the survey, in a statement.
Consumers' view of inflation one year ahead, at 4.5 percent, was up sharply from February's 3.6 percent. Other than for the month after Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005, the latest 1-year inflation reading was the highest since the 1990 recession, according to Curtin.