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Consumer confidence up this month, Conference Board reports

By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times –

WASHINGTON — Consumer confidence has risen this month as people said they are more optimistic about their situation and the short-term direction of the economy, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.

The group’s Consumer Confidence Index was up 9 points in September to 70.3 after declining in August. The increase came as other consumer confidence measures also have risen amid improving economic signs, particularly a nascent rebound in the housing market.

The index is roughly back to its February level, before a spike in gas prices and other factors helped drive it down through the spring and early summer.

“Despite continuing economic uncertainty, consumers are slightly more optimistic than they have been in several months,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

The index, which is compiled based on polling of consumers, found the percentage of people who saw business conditions as good rose to 15.5 percent from 15.3 percent in August. And 8.3 percent of respondents said jobs were plentiful, up from 7.2 percent last month.

Consumers also were more upbeat about the direction of the economy over the next six months, with 18.2 percent expecting business conditions to improve, compared to 16.7 percent in August. Expectations for continued job growth also rose, as 18.5 percent of people said they foresaw more jobs in the next six months, up from 15.8 percent.

With those views, 16.3 percent of consumers expected their incomes to increase in the coming months, up from 16 percent in August.

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