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Consumer Confidence Dips; New Home Sales Rise

American consumers aren't feeling quite as confident this month as they were in November.

The widely watched Consumer Confidence Index from the private Conference Board declined to 65.1 in December from 71.5 the month before. It also fell slightly in November from October.

In the private research group's report, Conference Board economist Lynn Franco says the December drop was "most likely caused by uncertainty surrounding the oncoming 'fiscal cliff.' A similar decline in expectations was experienced in August of 2011 during the debt ceiling discussions."

How consumers are feeling is a key economic indicator, of course, because they purchase about 70 percent of all the goods and services that businesses produce. If consumers aren't feeling that great, demand likely won't be too strong.

Also this morning, the Census Bureau reported that sales of new homes rose 4.4 percent in November from October, to an annual rate of 377,000. That's another sign that the housing sector is on the mend.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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