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US Consumer Confidence Hits 2-Year High - 2004-07-27

The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index has hit a two-year high, according to a New York-based business research group. The findings signal an improved outlook for more jobs and an upswing in the U.S. economy.

According to the Conference Board, consumer confidence rose for the fourth-straight month, reaching its highest point since June of 2002.

The director of research at the Conference Board, Lynn Franco, says consumers are optimistic about their financial future.

"They are telling us that they expect the labor market to continue to add jobs and they expect the economy to continue growing, and these two factors are boosting confidence," she said.

The Consumer Confidence Index rose more than three points, from 102.8 in June to 106.1 in July, and the Expectations Index climbed five points.

According to the most recent figures from the Department of Labor, unemployment has remained steady at five-point-six-percent since the official end of the recession in November 2001. Since April of this year, an average of 300-thousand new jobs have been created each month.

Ms. Franco says it is probably those jobs, and not the prospect of the coming November presidential elections that are driving confidence higher.

"Right now it is not really being driven by the election at all. It is really being driven by the economy and by the labor market," she said. "In fact, we saw signs in the summer of 2003 that labor market conditions were taking a turn for the better. But not until recently when we have had strong gains have those gains materialized into strong gains in confidence."

The Consumer Confidence survey is based on a sample of 5,000 U.S. households.