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Consumer confidence unexpectedly climbs in August

Confidence among consumers unexpectedly increased in August as Americans grew more optimistic about the outlook for the economy.

The Conference Board’s index of sentiment advanced to 81.5 from a revised 81 the previous month that was stronger than initially estimated, the New York-based private research group reported yesterday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists was 79.

Sustained job growth and increased wealth tied to higher home values and stock portfolios are helping to sustain the household spending, boosting automakers and home-improvement retailers such as Lowe’s. Yesterday’s report showed Americans expected more employment opportunities and income gains in the next six months.

“There’s continued good news households are hearing, whether it’s good news on jobs, good news on wealth,” Jonathan Basile, an economist at Credit Suisse in New York, said before the report. With interest rates stabilizing, “maybe there’s some diminished concern that rates are going higher.”

Estimates for consumer confidence ranged from 74.3 to 82 in the Bloomberg survey of 71 economists. The measure averaged 53.7 during the recession that ended in June 2009.

Another report yesterday showed home prices increased at a slower pace in June. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values advanced 12.1 percent from the same month in 2012 after rising 12.2 percent in the year ended in May, the biggest gain since March 2006.

The Conference Board’s measure of expectations for the next six months rose to 88.7 from 86. The gauge of present conditions decreased to 70.7 this month from 73.6 in July.

The share of Americans expecting business conditions to improve rose to 20.1 percent this month from 19.9 percent.

Here is the latest daily Poll that counts: Real Clear Politics Averages: Obama Job Approval: Approve – 43.8 percent//Disapprove – 50.5 percent...and ... Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.6 percent//Wrong Track – 62 percent

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