Consumer confidence edges up in July

Paul Wiseman
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Americans were a bit more confident about the economy in July, but their expectations for the near future dimmed slightly.

The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 127.4 this month from 127.1 in June.

The index measures both consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions and expectations for the future. Their view of current conditions in July was the rosiest since March 2001; 43.1 percent said jobs were “plentiful,” most since March 2001.

But consumer expectations for the next six months dropped for the second straight month to the lowest reading since December.

Consumers seem to be shrugging off trade disputes with major trading partners, including China, Canada and Mexico, which threaten to drive up the price of some imports. “The strong labor market trumps the negative trade war headlines,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, wrote in a research report.

Helped by tax cuts, economic growth clocked in at an annual pace of 4.1 percent from April through June, the fastest quarterly expansion since 2014. The unemployment rate is 4 percent, at or below what economists consider full employment.