Consumer Reports Index: Consumer sentiment drops

Yonkers, N.Y. -- After three consecutive months of improvement, the Consumer Reports Index for March slipped to 46.1, from 49.6 last month.

March's Consumer Reports Index measures overall consumer financial health and showed that the confidence of the American consumer is waning.

Further challenging consumer confidence, The Trouble Tracker Index increased slightly this month to 52.2 from 49.1 in February, and is now at its highest level since August 2011.

Retail has yet to regain its footing after holidays, as Americans continue to pull back on spending. Consumer Reports Past 30-Day Retail Index fell slightly to 11.5 from 11.8 last month, a pattern similar to last year. Planned purchasing over the next 30 days, reflecting anticipated March activity, is 8.7, up from 7.1 the prior month, seeding hopes for an upturn in the near term.

"Consumers are not yet comfortable in their financial situation as the country limps into its fifth year of near-recessionary times," said Ed Farrell, director of the Consumer Reports National Research Center. "Weak retail is the symptom, not an underlying cause. Consumers will need a clear signal led by a greatly improved jobs outlook to resume spending."