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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 June, 2004, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Jobs boost US consumer confidence
New York scene
More jobs and lower petrol prices have enthused consumers
US consumer confidence is at a two-year high, according to a survey from a private forecasting group.

The Conference Board said its index of shoppers' confidence rose to 101.9 in June, from 93.1 in May.

This was well above expectations for a reading of 95.0 this month, and the highest since June 2002.

The New York-based group said the new outlook was largely down to an improved jobs situation, and that consumers expected "healthy" economic growth.

Favourable outlook

Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of all US economic activity.

"Looking ahead, consumers expect the economy to continue to grow at a healthy clip and to continue to generate additional jobs," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's consumer research centre.

"And with prices at the pump beginning to ease, the short-term outlook remains favorable," she added.

The board said that the percentage of consumers who said jobs were hard to get fell to 26.5 from 30.3, the lowest in 2004, while those saying jobs were plentiful rose to 18.0 from 16.6.

'Room for improvement'

Referring to the confidence figure of 101.9, Cary Leahey, economist at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York, said: "Anything above 100 is impressive.

"The only (negative) is that this index is closely related to the jobs situation and the jobs plentiful index went up, but not as much as it could have, so there's still a huge amount of room for improvement there."

Those expecting business conditions to improve in the next six months rose to 23.4% from 22.8%.

Consumers expecting conditions to worsen declined to 9.2% from 10.1%.

The survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 US households.

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