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US Consumer Confidence Rises

Shoppers stand in line at Nordstrom Rack, Dec. 26, 2014, in Schaumburg, Ill.

Consumer confidence, which is a key driver of U.S. economic growth, improved in December, according to two studies published Tuesday.

The Conference Board's closely-watched survey shows more consumers have a favorable view of current economic conditions and fewer say the business climate is bad.

A separate survey by Gallup questioned more than 2500 consumers and found the most confidence in economic conditions since 2008.

The improved outlook follows a series of mostly upbeat economic reports, including plunging gasoline prices, the economy expanding at a five percent rate in the third quarter, and unemployment falling to 5.8 percent.

Still another study shows housing prices rose 4.5 percent in the 12-month period ending in October. Experts say the Case-Shiller index rose at a slower pace than in the recent past because prices have risen beyond the reach of many potential customers.