U.S. consumer confidence improves again in August

WASHINGTON (AP) - American consumers are giving today's economy the highest grade in more than 16 years.

The Conference Board says consumers' assessment of current economic conditions hit the highest level this month since July 2001. The business research group's overall consumer confidence index, which takes into account Americans' views of current conditions and their expectations for the next six months, rose to 122.9 in August from 120 in July.

Americans' spirits have been lifted by a healthy job market. Employers added a robust 209,000 jobs in July, and the unemployment rate has dropped to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent.

Economists pay close attention to the numbers because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.