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Consumer confidence rises 5.4 percent

NEW YORK — With Americans feeling notably more buoyant after gas and home heating oil prices began to fall, consumer confidence perked up sharply, rising for a second straight month in December and improving by 5.4 percent to a level of 103.6, The Conference Board reported.

While the overall confidence number rose in December, the cheer didn't spread very far around. Indeed, the overall gain was driven by strong improvement in just three of the nine regions of the nation with the West North Central states, up 10.8 percent; the East North Central states, up 9.3 percent; and the Middle Atlantic region, up 9.3 percent. Elsewhere, the Pacific states recorded a more modest gain of 4.3 percent, and five of the nine regions, more than half, reported declining confidence levels. The greatest decline in confidence, 16.5 percent, came out of the Mountain states.

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