U.S. stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) edged lower in morning trading as reports indicate that consumers are still wary of the overall health of the economy.

The Conference Board said that its index of consumer confidence fell to 53.1 in September, down from a 54.5 in August and a far cry from the 57 expected by economists.  The decline was attributed to concerns about the labor markets. Consumer confidence is truly the catalyst behind an economic recovery, reports the Associated Press.

The housing sector continues to show signs of life as the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Index, a home price index of 20 major cities, showed home prices rising 1.2% in July from June, marking the third straight month of increases.  To add to this, the index has risen at an 8% annualized rate in the three months to July, the best performance since early 2006, states the Associated Press.  Despite the upbeat news, the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate (NYSEArca: IYR) was down 1.7% in morning trading.

Crude oil continued to decline as the U.S. dollar gained ground.  Anticipation of the release of an unfriendly government report indicating large crude supplies hovers over the volatile commodity.  Crude fell to $66.51/barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.  The United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO) was down 1.1% in morning trading.

Overall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.4%, the S&P 500 gave up 0.4% and the Nasdaq was down 0.6% in morning trading.

For more stories on oil, visit our oil category.

Kevin Grewal contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.

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