One of the key measures of consumer confidence fell through the floor. The RBC Cash Index dropped to 33.1 in early March, down from 48.5 in February.
The figure was the worst since the survey began in 2002 according to the AP.
"The U.S. consumer is definitely in full defensive mode," said T.J. Marta, a fixed-income strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
Douglas A. McIntyre