Crash: U.S. consumer confidence hits lowest point in 30 years

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment slumped to 54.9 from 63.7 the prior month. The gauge was projected to decline to 62, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

The biggest one-week slump in stocks since 2008 and the downgrade of country’s top credit rating may be exacerbating consumers’ concerns as unemployment hovers above 9 percent and companies are hesitant to hire. Rising pessimism poses a risk household spending will cool further, hindering a recovery that Federal Reserve policy makers said this week was already advancing “considerably slower” than projected.

“We’re really at the bottom of the barrel right now,” Lindsey Piegza, an economist at FTN Financial in New York, said before the report. “Americans are feeling an increasing level of frustration with their leaders in Washington. We’re also seeing a slew of weaker than expected economic reports.”