A series of troubling signs for the U.S. economy threatens to dash hopes that 2011 would be a year of robust recovery — and that could prove troublesome for President Barack Obama’s reelection chances.

The Obama team has long hoped that the president’s 2012 campaign would be underpinned by an economy that was clearly accelerating out of the Great Recession, showing strong growth and job creation. But recent economic data paint a picture of an economy stuck in low gear, held down by continued high personal debt, a moribund housing market, high food and gas prices, persistent weather disasters and widespread unease about what the future holds.

Some economists had hoped the killing of Osama bin Laden might ease general American anxiety and lead to stronger consumer sentiment. No such luck. Consumer confidence dropped to a weak reading of 60.8 this month, down from 66 in April, according to data out Tuesday from the Conference Board.

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