US consumer confidence expected to show further gain in July

The private Conference Board reports on consumer confidence for July. The report will be issued at 10 a.m. EDT Tuesday.

CONFIDENCE UP: The forecast is that consumer confidence rose to a reading of 85.5 in July, according to a survey of economists by FactSet.

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HIGHER SENTIMENT: In June, U.S. consumers expressed more confidence about the economy than they had in more than six years.

Many Americans were optimistic about business conditions and the outlook for jobs, although fewer expected their incomes to grow over the next six months, the research group said.

Confidence bottomed in February 2009 at 25.3 before beginning its current, upward swing. While the index still hasn't returned to full health, it is well above last year's average of 72.3. Before the recession, the index usually topped 90.

Consumers' attitudes are closely watched because their spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Consumers in June registered the most favorable assessment of current business conditions since March 2008 and their outlook for the next months rose to highest level since August 2013. The percentage saying jobs are "plentiful" was 14.7 percent, highest since May 2008.

An improving job market has brightened Americans' outlook. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent in June, the lowest level since September 2008. Employers added 288,000 jobs in June, marking the fifth straight month of job gains above 200,000. That is the best such stretch since the late 1990s tech boom.

Economists believe the job gains will continue in coming months and that will help propel the economy to stronger growth.

In the January-March quarter, economic output went into reverse, falling at an annual rate of 2.9 percent. That big drop was blamed in large part on severe winter weather. Those conditions dampened everything from trips to the mall by shoppers to factory production.

The government will provide its first look at economic activity in the April-June on Wednesday and economists are predicting a solid rebound to growth of around 2.9 percent. Analysts believe the economy will pick up even more momentum in the second half of the year, helped by further job gains providing people with more money to spend.