NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer confidence crumbled in August to its lowest level in more than two years as the fallout from political wrangling over a budget deal took its toll, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.
KEY POINTS: * The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes sank to 44.5 from a downwardly revised 59.2 the month before. The index was well off a poll of economists by Reuters for a reading of 52.0. * The index was at the lowest level since April 2009, the report said. July was originally reported as 59.5.
PETER JANKOVSKIS, CO-CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, OAKBROOK
INVESTMENTS LLC, LISLE, ILLINOIS:
"Equities markets are reacting very negatively to the number. It wasn't so much a deterioration in current conditions but people's expectations 12 months out. That is what seems to really drag the number down and the (stock) market is very forward-looking.
"There was also a considerable deterioration in conditions in the job market with more people calling jobs hard to find. Those are areas of particular concern to investors."
GENNADIY GOLDBERG, FIXED INCOME ANALYST, 4CAST LTD, NEW YORK
"Bonds took this as a positive, weaker consumer confidence implies that consumers aren't going to spending the near future and obviously that's going to filter back into the economy and weaken things that have already been weakening. This is kind of a vicious cycle.
"There has been a bad combination of things, there is basically nothing for consumers to be confident about. The economy is stumbling along, you've had a lot of policy and tax uncertainty, and this doesn't yet account for the recent natural disasters. There's room for downside."
MARK VITNER, SENIOR ECONOMIST, WELLS FARGO SECURITIES,
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA:
"Consumers are in a funk. Most of the decline is in expectations and the expectations tends to be influenced by the stock market -- it accounts for 60 percent of the index. Certainly folks are concerned about business conditions in general and the outlook for employment and income into the future, and that is where we saw most of the weakness."
RON KIDDOO, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, COZAD ASSET MANAGEMENT,
"This isn't unexpected given the last month, what with the lack of movement in Washington and the decline in stocks. So it isn't unexpected that equities will go down on this. I believe gridlock in Washington is hurting markets, so if we see positive action there this will be a blip, otherwise I think this could be a trend."
TOM PORCELLI, U.S. ECONOMIST, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS, NEW YORK
"This is just so ugly. You even have to wonder, should we even be surprised by this? Slipping into levels we saw during the recession -- that's where the consumer psyche is. They are wondering out loud whether the economy is slipping back into a recession.
"What we are effectively going through is a crisis of confidence and we are seeing that not only in the high frequency consumer spending data but you're seeing it in market sentiment as well. That has a powerful influence over the broader economic backdrop."
JESSICA HOVERSEN, FIXED INCOME AND CURRENCY ANALYST, MF GLOBAL,
"Looks like the euro is a couple of ticks lower. The direction of trade will be hinged on how equity markets respond."
MARKET REACTION: STOCKS: U.S. stock indexes added to losses BONDS: U.S. bond prices extended gains FOREX: The dollar