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U.K. Consumer Confidence Stays Near 2 1/2-Year Low, GfK Says

U.K. consumer confidence stayed close to its lowest level in more than 2 1/2 years in November as Britons’ pessimism over the economy increased amid continuing turmoil in the euro area, GfK NOP Ltd. said.

An index of sentiment rose 1 point from October to minus 31, barely recovering from the weakest reading since February 2009, the London-based research group said in an e-mailed report today. A measure of expectations for the economy fell 2 points to minus 33, the lowest since February 2009.

“Given the current crisis over the euro zone, and the pessimism in the media about the likelihood of the British economy sliding back into recession,” the increase “is a minor variation and doesn’t indicate a significant change,” GfK Social Research Managing Director Nick Moon said in a statement. “What matters is the long-term trend, and at the moment that still looks very gloomy.”

Bank of England governor Mervyn King said this week that the U.K. is being “increasingly threatened” by the euro crisis, while Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said yesterday that growth will be slower than forecast next year. The weaker outlook means Osborne plans additional restraint on public-sector pay and will extend his austerity program by two years.

The Bank of England cut its 2012 growth projection to 0.9 percent from 2.2 percent this month, and King said the revision was largely due to the impact of the euro-area crisis. It expanded its bond-purchase program by 75 billion pounds ($117 billion) to 275 billion pounds in October, and some policy makers have indicated more stimulus may be needed.

GfK’s measure of consumers’ view of their personal financial situation over the next year remained at minus 10 in November, it said. A gauge of whether now is the right time to make major purchases rose 5 points to minus 27.

GfK surveyed 2,006 people between Nov. 4 and Nov. 13.

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