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Reports: US Home Prices, Consumer Confidence, Fall Sharply

Two new economic reports say U.S. consumer confidence fell in March while home prices dropped in January.

Consumer confidence fell sharply, by 11.9 points to a reading of 64.5, to a five-year low as consumers worried about tight credit, a troubled job market, rising prices, and falling home values.

Economists watch consumer confidence because consumer demand drives about two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

The bad news was reinforced by a separate report from a business group, Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index, which said U.S. home prices fell around 11 percent from a year ago in the nation's largest cities.

Falling home values make it difficult for consumers to borrow money with the value of their homes as collateral. The problem can further slow consumer spending.

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