U.S. Consumer Confidence Rises

This Is Highest Mark In Four Months

Confidence RisesHitting its highest mark in four months, U.S. consumer confidence inched higher in July, according to a new report released by the Conference Board. The research group's closely-watched consumer confidence index increased to 65.9 last month, up slightly from 62.7 in June. Still, the index is 25 points below readings that would indicate a healthy economy, demonstrating consumers are not overly optimistic about sharp economic gains in the second half of 2012.

"Consumers' attitude regarding current conditions was little changed in July, but their short-term expectations, which had declined last month, bounced back," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "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."

Conference Board data shows consumers grew more hopeful in July about a near-term business increase. About 19% of respondents now expect business conditions to improve over the next six months, an increase from 16% in June. However, consumers remain unconvinced of major improvement in the labor market, as 41% of those surveyed describe jobs as "hard to get" and just 7.8% believe jobs are currently "plentiful." In July, consumers also stayed generally pessimistic about salaries, with only 14% saying they anticipate their incomes will rise in the short term.