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A monthly barometer has found that consumer sentiment plummeted in January driven by rising food prices and fuel costs coupled with declining housing values. The decline in the overall “Index” has pushed the index to its lowest level since data collection began in 2002. The composite “RBC CASH Index” for January 2008 stands at 56.3, compared to 65.9 in December and 95.3 one-year ago. The “RBC Expectations Index” for January dropped more than eight points after rebounding in December. The “RBC Current Conditions Index” slipped again this month reaching 78.9, down 6 points from December’s level, and down 22 points from October’s high. The “RBC Jobs Index” also dipped to 106.9, compared to 113.9 in December. The “RBC Investment Index” was down another three points to 76.3, compared to 79.7 last month. RBC Financial Group says its research shows no slowing of current economic headwinds and that consumers could pull back further on spending, increasing the risk of a recession.

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