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The Consumer Confidence Index retreated in July for the second consecutive month after improving greatly in May, The Conference Board Inc., a New York-based research organization reported today. The July index stands at 46.6, down from 49.3 in June. The baseline for the index is 100. In May, the index reached 54.8. United Kingdom-based research company TNS conducts the monthly Consumer Confidence survey of 5,000 randomly selected households. The cutoff date for this month's survey was July 21. "The decline was caused primarily by a worsening job market, as the percentage of consumers claiming jobs are hard to get rose sharply," says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. Survey respondents who said business conditions are "bad" increased to 46.3% in July from 45.3% who said so a month earlier. However, those saying conditions are "good" increased to 9.1% in July from 8.1% in June. Respondents' assessment of the labor market deteriorated further. Those claiming jobs are "hard to get" increased to 48.1% in July from 44.8% a month earlier, while those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 3.6% in July from 4.5% in June.

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