U.S. Consumer Sentiment Brightens, Says University Of Michigan

By Agence France-Presse U.S. consumer sentiment brightened a little in July despite persistent pain in the jobs market, a closely watched survey by the University of Michigan showed July 18. The consumer sentiment index, a barometer compiled from the survey, rose to 90.3 points -- just below market expectations -- in early July from 89.7 in a final June reading. Sentiment is closely watched because it can sway consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. The U.S. unemployment rate shot up unexpectedly to a nine-year high of 6.4% in June but there have been tentative signs of an upturn in other areas of the economy, particularly in services. Analysts generally forecast a pickup in the sluggish economy in the second half of this year, boosted by a $350-billion tax-cut package and 45-year low interest rates. The University of Michigan will release a final reading for consumer sentiment in July on Aug. 1. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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