OTTAWA - The Conference Board of Canada says consumer confidence declined slightly in March as concerns about future finances outweighed a slightly less pessimistic outlook for jobs and major purchases.
The board's index was also dragged down by extremely negative responses from the Prairies that more than offset improved confidence in other regions.
The national index dropped 0.4 point to 80.5, even though four of five regional indexes rose.
The Ottawa-based think tank says it's unusual for one region to have such a big impact on the national index, which is based on responses to four questions about personal and general economic conditions.
The Prairies stood out from the others, dropping 11.9 points to 88.7 — the region's lowest reading since August 2009, when the economy and energy industry began to recover from a major recession.
The Conference Board attributed pessimism to a cloud hanging over the construction of major pipeline projects, raising concerns about future investment in the energy sector.