08/30/2011 10:11 EDT | Updated 10/30/2011 05:12 EDT

US consumer confidence drops in August to lowest level since April 2009

NEW YORK, N.Y. - A private research group says that American consumers' confidence in the economy in August dropped almost 15 points to its lowest level since April 2009.

The reading came as worries about the economy fueled the wildest stock market swings since the financial meltdown in 2008.

The Conference Board says that its consumer confidence index dropped to 44.5, down from a revised 59.2 in July.

It was the lowest level since April 2009 when the reading was 40.8. The level was far below the 53.3 that analysts had expected.

A reading above 90 indicates the economy is on solid footing; above 100 signals strong growth. Economists watch the numbers closely because consumer spending accounts for 70 per cent of U.S. economic activity.