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U.S. consumer confidence jumps to 7-month high

(AP) NEW YORK - A private group says U.S. consumer confidence jumped this month to the highest level since February, bolstered by a brighter hiring outlook.

The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 70.3. That's up from 61.3 in August, which was revised higher. And it's the highest reading since February, when the economy added 259,000 jobs.

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The indicator is watched closely because consumer spending drives nearly 70 percent of economic activity. The reading is still below 90, a level that indicates a healthy economy. Since the beginning of the year, the index has fluctuated sharply.

The survey was conducted from Sept. 1 through Sept. 13. It showed consumers were more optimistic about the current availability of jobs and their outlook over the next six months.

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