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Consumer Confidence Falls, Showing Uncertainty in Economy

Consumer confidence fell in September for the first time in five months and home prices in July rose less than expected from a year earlier, underscoring the unsteady nature of United States growth.

Another report on Tuesday showed that business activity growth in the Midwest slowed slightly in September.

“We’re continuing to effectively struggle,” said Mike Englund, chief economist at Action Economics. “Some of the optimism that we got in the updraft in consumer confidence in the third quarter was probably a bit overstated.”

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer confidence fell to 86.0 in September from an upwardly revised 93.4 the month before. Economists had expected a reading of 92.5, according to a Reuters poll.

Consumer confidence was hurt by concerns over the job market and expectations that economic growth will slow in coming months.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas gained 6.7 percent in July, year over year, shy of expectations for a 7.5 percent rise. On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, prices in the 20 cities fell 0.5 percent in July. A Reuters survey of economists had forecast a flat reading.

“The home price data suggests that we haven’t entirely repaired the home sales process,” Mr. Englund said. “We have a housing market where people who are dependent on credit to buy homes are finding that homes aren’t as easy to buy as they used to be.”

In a third report, the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago’s business barometer fell to 60.5 this month from 64.3 in August, falling short of economists’ expectations for 61.9. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the regional economy.

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