Washington - US consumer confidence increased for the third consecutive month in July, hitting its highest level since October 2007, The Conference Board said Tuesday.

The consumer confidence index rose to 90.9 in July, up from 86.4 in June.

A year ago, the index stood at 81.0.

The gain in confidence was much stronger than the 85.6 percent reading analysts expected.

“Strong job growth helped boost consumers' assessment of current conditions, while brighter short-term outlooks for the economy and jobs, and to a lesser extent personal income, drove the gain in expectations,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the board.

More consumers were optimistic about the labour market.

Those seeing “plentiful” jobs currently rose to 15.9 percent from 14.6 percent in June.

Those expecting “more jobs” jumped to 19.1 percent from 16.3 percent.

But the data generally showed consumers grew more cautious about spending plans within the next six months, with fewer expecting to buy automobiles, homes and major appliances and take vacations.

Franco said that the overall rosier outlook, especially for expectations of conditions in the coming six months, suggested that confidence likely would continue to grow in the second half of 2014. - Sapa-AFP