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Consumer confidence falls in U.S. swing states ahead of presidential election

10/27/2020 | 09:51pm EST
Shoppers are seen wearing masks while shopping at a Walmart store in Bradford, Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Consumer confidence dropped sharply in October in three U.S. states considered crucial for Republican President Donald Trump's re-election as fears about the economy's outlook mounted, according to a survey on Tuesday.

The Conference Board's findings came ahead of next Tuesday's fiercely contested battle for the White House between Trump and Democratic nomineee Joe Biden. Trump is trailing the former vice president in national opinion polls.

Consumer confidence in Florida dropped to a reading of 100.3 this month from 114.4 in September. Though confidence has rebounded after slumping as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the state, it is near levels seen just before the 2016 election.

In Pennsylvania, consumer confidence tumbled to a reading of 92.0 from 115.5 in September. Consumer confidence in Michigan fell to 119.2 in October from a reading of 124.1 in the prior month. Confidence in the three swing states was dragged by declines in consumers' expectations.

"The numbers can be choppy, but this does not bode well for Donald Trump's chances of re-election and with incomes being squeezed and COVID-19 cases on the rise, neither for the economy," said James Knightley, chief international economist at ING in New York.

Consumer confidence also fell in Ohio and Illinois and Texas this month, but edged up in New York and California.

As result, overall consumer confidence dipped to a reading of 100.9 in October from 101.3 in September.

"There is little to suggest that consumers foresee the economy gaining momentum in the final months of 2020, especially with COVID-19 cases on the rise and unemployment still high," said Lynn Franco, senior director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Reuters 2020
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