U.S. consumers' confidence fell to a 16-year low in March, pointing to recession, as worries over fading job prospects and rising inflation clouded the outlook, a survey showed.
The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said its final index of confidence fell to 69.5 in March -- its lowest since February 1992, when it was at 68.8 -- from the previous month's reading of 70.8.
Economists polled by Reuters expected a reading of 70.0. The preliminary report showed the index of confidence at 70.5 in early March.
The index of consumer expectations fell to 60.1, its lowest since January 1992, when it was at 59.1. In February this year it was at 62.4.
The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said in a release that "it is now nearly unanimous among consumers that the economy has already entered a recession."
The report follows Tuesday's study by the Conference Board that said consumer confidence sank to a five-year low in March as tight credit markets, rising prices and worsening job prospects deepened worries that the economy has fallen into recession.
The Conference Board, a business-backed research group, said that its Consumer Confidence Index plunged to 64.5 in March from a revised 76.4 in February. The March reading was far below the 73.0 expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson/IFR.