Consumer Confidence sank to its lowest level since March of 2003, the Conference Board reported this morning (March 25).

The Consumer Confidence Index, fell to 64.5 from 76.4 in February, a precipitous drop on top of a sharp decline last month. The index is based on a 1985 reading of 100. The Expectations Index declined to 47.9 from 58.0.The Present Situation Index decreased to 89.2 from 104.0 in February.

"Consumers' confidence in the state of the economy continues to fade," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "The decline in the Present Situation Index implies that the pace of growth in recent months has weakened even further. Looking ahead, consumers' outlook for business conditions, the job market and their income prospects is quite pessimistic and suggests further weakening may be on the horizon."

Franco added, "The Expectations Index, in fact, is now at a 35-year low, levels not seen since the Oil Embargo and Watergate."

Consumers claiming business conditions are "bad" increased to 25.4% from 21.3%, while those claiming business conditions are "good" declined to 15.4% from 19.1%. Consumers saying jobs are "hard to get" rose to 25.1% from 23.4%; those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 18.8% from 21.5%.

Those expecting business conditions to worsen over the next six months increased to 25.4% from 21.6%, while those anticipating business conditions to improve declined to 8.1% from 9.7%. Consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead increased to 29.0% from 28.0%, while those anticipating more jobs declined to 7.7% from 8.9%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase declined to 14.9% from 18.0%.