JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Rumors about the health of their longtime president are bewildering Indonesians, who were more preoccupied Saturday with what they know for sure: Their economy needs help.

After days of silence, the government denied rumors that Suharto was seriously ill or dead. A smiling president was shown on television at his home, but then canceled a planned trip to Malaysia.

Doubts linger about Suharto's health, but people in a central Jakarta alley fretted more about rising prices and unemployment as Indonesia's once-thriving economy falters.

``I'm worried. My daily income isn't steady,'' said 67-year-old Sutresno, who sells vegetables in a tiny wooden kiosk in front of a fly-covered garbage container.

At food stalls, gas stations and boarding houses, there was also bewilderment about whether the 76-year-old leader was sick or not after wild rumors panicked traders this week, sending the fragile rupiah to all-time lows against the U.S. dollar and the stock market plunging.

``This is the problem of the government. They don't want to be open,'' said Supriono, a 56-year-old guard at a gas station.

Suharto, a former army general who has ruled Indonesia for 32 years, is often seen as a remote figure whose authoritarian style is compared to that of Java's ancient kings.

The president has no obvious successor, so doubts about political stability in a post-Suharto period are widespread. Indonesia's lagging economy, now the recipient of a $40 billion bailout plan, adds to fears of social unrest in the months ahead.

One man selling plates of tofu and chicken from a cart said inconclusive media reports on Suharto's health were baffling.

``I don't understand exactly what happened,'' said Yatim, who makes $1 a day. In July, before the rupiah began its steady fall in value along with other Asian currencies, his daily income was worth $2.