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State and Nation Business

U.S. consumers more confident in the economy in July

NEW YORK – U.S. consumer confidence rose in July after four months of declines, as a brighter outlook for short-term hiring offset longer-term worries about the economy.

The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index increased to 65.9, from 62.7 in June. That's the highest reading since April and better than the reading of 62 that economists had forecast.

Still, the index remains well below 90, which indicates a healthy economy. It hasn't been near that level since the Great Recession began in December 2007. The index fell to an all-time low of 25.3 in February 2009 — four months before the recession officially ended.

Consumer confidence is widely watched because consumer spending drives 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

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