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Consumers currently upbeat

NEW YORK -- With Americans feeling more bullish on the current state of the economy, and especially optimistic about the outlook for jobs, consumer confidence climbed for a third straight month in January, rising by 2.4% to its highest level in more than three years, The Conference Board reported today.

The index rose to a level of 106.3 from 103.8 in December. It was the highest the index has climbed since hitting a level of 106.3 in June, 2002.

Looking six months out, consumer sentiment was more subdued. The number who expect business conditions to worsen rose to 10.5% from 9.1% in December. Correspondingly, the number of those who expect conditions to improve declined to 17.7% from 18.4%.

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