WASHINGTON - Consumer confidence slumped unexpectedly in October, according to a report yesterday, which analysts said raises questions about the staying power of the recent trend toward stronger consumer spending,

The Conference Board, a private research group based in New York, said that its consumer confidence index fell 4.4 points to 59.4 in October, the biggest drop in five months, which erased the 4.5 point gain the index registered in September.

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