Perceptions of U.S. economic conditions over the next year dropped nine points to 68 — the biggest decline in that category since a 16-point drop in May 2010. Perceptions of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years dropped six points to 74, its lowest reading since August 2010, when it was 69. Confidence in purchasing big-ticket items such as cars and appliances fell nine points to 79. #

Turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, disaster in Japan, and rising gas prices all resonated with Floridians, according to the survey. #

“The January and February consumer confidence readings seemed somewhat high,” McCarty said. “While we had expected a decline as the budget situation both at the state and national level unfolded, this decline is in no small part due to the events in the Middle East, North Africa and Japan. This is particularly noticeable in the readings on perceptions of economic conditions which often register pessimism regarding such events in the short run, but recover within a month or two.” #

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