Aug
27

Americans’ Confidence in Economy on Rise

By
August 27, 2008

By Anne D’Innocenzio – Associated Press

Americans felt better about the economy in August as a barometer of sentiment posted the biggest rise in two years amid falling gas prices.

Two reports suggested a bottom could be nearing for the housing market, but economists caution that it’s too early to proclaim that the worst is over.

The Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 56.9 from a revised 51.9 in July. That’s the largest gain since August 2006 and was above the 53 expected by economists surveyed by Thomson/IFR.

It’s also the second month in a row that sentiment improved, after a six-month slide since January, but it remains about half what it was a year ago, and worries about the job market persisted.

“It’s still too early to call a bottom” on confidence and housing, said Gary Thayer, senior economist at Wachovia Securities.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index released Tuesday showed home prices dropped a record 15.4 percent during the second quarter. But the rate of single-family home price declines slowed from May to June, a possible silver lining.

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