Martin Crutsinger

WASHINGTON: U.S. consumer confidence rose in August to its highest level in 11 months, suggesting economic growth could pick up in the second half of the year.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 101.1, up from 96.7 in July. It was the highest level for confidence since the index hit 102.6 last September.

The gain reflected consumers’ brighter views about the current economic situation and their expectations for the future.

The percentage of those surveyed who saw business conditions as “good” increased from 27.3 percent to 30 percent.

Those who viewed business conditions as “bad” remained virtually unchanged at 18.4 percent.

Consumers who regarded jobs as “plentiful” increased from 23 percent to 26 percent, although those who felt jobs were “hard to get” also rose slightly from 22.1 percent to 23.4 percent.

Economists said that the climb in confidence reflected stronger job gains seen in recent months, as well as strength in the stock market and home prices, which boost consumers’ net worth.