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Reports: US Consumer Confidence Rises, Inflation Stalls

In this June 6, 2015 photo, a customer at left pays for produce with cash to a worker at a stand at the Atlanta Farmers Market.

Economic reports show U.S. consumers are gaining a bit more confidence, while inflation stalls. A separate report found business activity rose in the Chicago area.

A University of Michigan study published Friday says more consumers think their financial situation will improve than at any time since 2007. The study is based on hundreds of interviews conducted with households in October. Researchers say employment gains and very low inflation are helping consumers shrug off worries about turmoil in stock and commodity markets, faltering exports and other issues.

Economists track consumer sentiment for clues about future consumer spending because consumer demand drives most U.S. economic activity.

A separate report on inflation showed "core" prices rose just 1.3 percent over the past year, well below the U.S. central bank's target rate of two percent. Experts look at prices outside the volatile areas of fuel and food to get a clearer picture of the overall economy. Low inflation is one reason the Federal Reserve put off raising interest rates earlier this week.

Another report looks at companies in the Chicago area, and found business activity surged in October. Experts watch Chicago because its very diverse economy gives hints about the performance of the nationwide economy.