US consumer cheer dives

CONFIDENCE among US consumers dived unexpectedly low in June, despite encouraging signs the worst of the housing slump may be over.<br /><br />The Conference Board&rsquo;s sentiment index fell to 49.3 in June from 54.8 in May, suggesting the economy is still firmly in the grip of recession.<br /><br />The lack of consumer confidence reflects a weak labour market and rising energy costs, but goes against the latest news that house prices have not dropped as dramatically as expected.<br /><br />One glimmer of hope was increased house prices in some parts of the US.<br /><br />Standard &amp; Poor&rsquo;s / Case Shiller home price indexes showed prices of single-family homes went down in April compared to the previous month, butonly by 0.6 per cent rather than the 1.8 per cent decline predicted by economists.<br /><br />Stocks fell after the confidence gloomy report, which proved households remain worried about what the coming months will bring.<br /><br />Billionaire investor George Soros added to the sombre mood, saying that rising borrowing costs posed a threat to any eventual economic recovery.<br /><br />&ldquo;As markets revive, fear of inflation will drive up interest rates, which will choke off recovery,&rdquo; he said.