Consumer Confidence Makes a Surprise Rise in July

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By Leah Schnurr

U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in July as Americans were more optimistic about the short-term outlook than they were about their current conditions, according to a private sector report released on Tuesday.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes climbed to 65.9 from a upwardly revised 62.7 in June, topping economists' expectations for a decline to 61.5.

June was originally reported as 62.0.

Despite the improvement, confidence still remains at historically low levels, Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement.

"While consumers expressed greater optimism about short-term business and employment prospects, they have grown more pessimistic about their earnings. Given the current economic environment - in particular the weak labor market - consumer confidence is not likely to gain any significant momentum in the coming months," said Franco.

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The expectations index improved to 79.1 from 73.4, while the present situation index edged down to 46.2 from 46.6.

Consumers' labor market assessment was mixed as the "jobs plentiful" index slipped to 7.8 percent from 8.3 percent, while the "jobs hard to get" index also fell to 40.8 percent from 41.2 percent.

The view in six months from now was more optimistic, with 17.6 percent expecting to see more jobs, up from 14.8 percent in June.

But consumers were more concerned about price increases, with expectations for inflation in the coming 12 months rising to 5.4 percent from 5.3 percent.

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