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Consumer confidence surges to five-year high, Conference Board says

WASHINGTON -- Americans are more optimistic about the economy than they have been since the Great Recession began, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The group's Consumer Confidence Index unexpectedly jumped to 81.4 this month, up sharply from 74.3 in May. It was the third straight monthly increase, though the figures were compiled before the recent stock market sell-off.

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Analysts had expected confidence to rise only slightly this month.

The other leading gauge, from Thompson Reuters and the University of Michigan, hit a five-year high in May, but its preliminary reading for June dipped a bit.

The Conference Board index reached its highest level since January 2008.

"Consumers are considerably more positive about current business and labor market conditions than they were at the beginning of the year," said Lynn Franco, the group's director of economic indicators.

"Expectations have also improved considerably over the past several months, suggesting that the pace of growth is unlikely to slow in the short term, and may even moderately pick up," she said.

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