Consumer confidence at seven-month high in September

NEW YORK Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:12am EDT

Women carry shopping bags through Times Square in New York, July 27, 2012. U.S. economic growth slowed as expected in the second quarter as consumers spent at their slowest pace in a year, increasing pressure on policymakers to do more to bolster the recovery. REUTERS/Andrew Burton

Women carry shopping bags through Times Square in New York, July 27, 2012. U.S. economic growth slowed as expected in the second quarter as consumers spent at their slowest pace in a year, increasing pressure on policymakers to do more to bolster the recovery.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Burton

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer confidence jumped to its highest level in seven months in September as Americans were more optimistic about the job market and income prospects, a private sector report showed on Tuesday.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes rose to 70.3 from an upwardly revised 61.3 in August. It was the highest level since February and topped economists' expectations for 63, according to a Reuters poll.

August was originally reported as 60.6.

"Despite continuing economic uncertainty, consumers are slightly more optimistic than they have been in several months," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement.

The expectations index climbed to 83.7 from 71.1, while the present situation index gained to 50.2 from 46.5.

Consumers' labor market assessment improved. The "jobs hard to get" index slipped to 39.9 percent from 40.6 percent the month before, while the "jobs plentiful" index rose to 8.3 percent from 7.2 percent.

Looking six months ahead, 16.3 percent expected income increases, up from 16 percent, while 14.1 percent anticipated decreases, down from 16.7 percent.

Consumers also felt better about price increases with expectations for inflation in the coming 12 months down to 5.8 percent from 6 percent.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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