Consumer confidence up as state's gas prices fell

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 1:44 a.m.
Florida consumer confidence in February was up two points over January to 91 and up four points over February 2006, with cheaper gas, a record-high stock market and low unemployment contributing, according to University of Florida economists.
The index is based on consumer mood toward purchasing with 100 points representing confidence in 1966.
Housing concerns held the index down with higher-interest loans to consumers with weak credit, higher inventories and lower sales of new and existing homes.
"Many people ended up buying homes they could not afford," said Chris McCarty, director of the survey research center at UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
Home equity, which has been going down, fuels other sectors of the economy. The housing effect should be more pronounced in Florida because of faster gains.
"It has much further to fall than other states," McCarty said.
He said consumer confidence has been volatile over the last couple months and the outlook is uncertain.
Gas prices were relatively low in February. but they are heading up. Although the stock market hit record highs, it has been going down.

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