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News summary: Consumer confidence down in December

The Associated Press

LOSING CONFIDENCE: The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence tumbled from 71.5 in November to 66.5 this month. That's the lowest level since August. A measure of consumers' expectations for the next six months plunged to the lowest since November 2011.

FISCAL CLIFF WORRIES: The drop in confidence suggests consumers are worried about the "fiscal cliff". That the combination of spending cuts and tax hikes that will take effect next year without an agreement on the federal budget.

UPBEAT ABOUT THE PRESENT: Consumers were surprisingly more positive about current economic conditions. The Conference Board's present situation index rose to its highest level since August 2008.