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The confidence of us consumers fell sharply in October - extending its decline to a fourth straight month, the Conference Board reported. Its index of consumer confidence, a measure of Americans' willingness to spend, fell to 130.1 from a revised 134.2 in September. The drop was greater than expected by analysts, who said it may signal the success of Federal Reserve efforts to cool off the economy by raising interest rates.

For the second week in a row, a major automaker in Japan announced sizable reductions in its work force. Mitsubishi Motors said 9,900 jobs will be cut over the next five years in line with ongoing restructuring efforts. The company also laid off 2,500 workers last year. Mitsubishi turned a small profit in the fiscal year ending March 31. But its sales have slumped, especially in Asia, and analysts say its contract to supply chassis to Volvo for cars built in the Netherlands appears unlikely to be renewed when it expires in 2004. Last week, Nissan announced 21,000 layoffs.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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