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US Consumer Confidence, Home Prices Plunge

Americans are increasingly more pessimistic about the country's economic prospects than they have been in 40 years.

A new report released Tuesday by a private research center, the New York-based Conference Board, says U.S. consumer confidence fell to its lowest level since it began tracking the data in 1967.

The finding may be an indication Americans are less likely to spend money in the coming months. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

Meanwhile, U.S. home prices are falling at the fastest pace on record.

A new survey, the S&P/Case Schiller Home Price Index, finds home prices in 20 major U.S. cities fell almost 17 percent in August, compared to the same time last year. It is the fifth consecutive month that home prices have fallen.

Many economists blame a period of severe declines in the U.S. housing market for helping to trigger the global financial crisis.

The survey follows reports from the government and an industry group, the National Association of Realtors, that homes sales have been increasing as prices have fallen. Some economists say the data shows that the troubled housing industry may be starting to stabilize.

Still, a report last week by the Internet real estate firm RealtyTrac warned the number of Americans in danger of losing their homes jumped 71 percent over the past year.

Some industry analysts say that trend could help push home prices down further, and eventually weaken the ability of consumers to spend money, further hurting the economy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.