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Job Losses Weigh on US Consumers; Concerns Mount in Britain

Many Americans appear to be too worried about earning money and keeping their jobs to feel good about the world's largest economy.

A widely watched index of U.S. consumer sentiment, the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, declined in July for the first time in five months. A statement issued Friday with the survey said U.S. consumers think the economic "free-fall" is over, but they do not believe the government's economic stimulus package will help them anytime soon.

There also is rising concern in Britain, the first major industrialized nation to issue results for the April-through-June period. British officials said the country's Gross Domestic Product, the broadest gauge of its economy, fell at the fastest pace since the country began keeping records in 1995.

The GDP measures all goods and services produced in the nation.

Britain said its GDP fell eight-tenths of a percent in the second quarter, declining by 5.6 percent when compared to the same time period last year.

Still, some countries are beginning to feel more optimistic about a possible economic recovery.

A survey of German businesses released Friday found confidence improved for a fourth consecutive month.

The Munich-based Ifo Institute said the survey of business leaders at some 7,000 firms in the largest European economy found many are less skeptical of their economic prospects. The institute called this a sign that the economy may be "gaining traction."

And a South Korean official said Friday that country's GDP grew at its fastest rate in five years during the second quarter, rising 2.3 percent in the three months ending in June.

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