Consumer confidence in the U.S. economy dipped in August even as Americans expressed more optimism about how the economy would do in the next six months, Conference Board figures showed.

The New York-based research group said its index of consumer confidence fell to 135.8 in August from a revised 136.2 in July. The August number was higher than the initial July estimate of 135.6.

Economists had expected an August reading of 134.4.

"Consumers are resilient," said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics Ltd. in Valhalla, N.Y. "There's no real weakness here."

The August drop reflects a fall in stocks, an increase in interest rates, and the Northeast's severe drought, said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center.

"But these latest dips in confidence are not of great concern," Ms. Franco said. "Confidence in the future remains high, and the consumer shopping spree continues."

The index has two components: consumers' expectations for the economy over the next six months and their view of current conditions.

The decline in the overall index was attributed entirely to concerns about the economy's current strength. The index gauging confidence in current conditions fell to 176.2, from an all-time high of 179.2 in July.

For the six-month outlook, confidence rose to 108.9, from 107.6 in July. Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pa., said: "Small ups or small downs don't really mean anything. The numbers indicate that "nothing has changed and the economy will continue to grow strongly."

The overall confidence index dropped in July for the first time in eight months. June's overall confidence index of 139 was the highest since October 1968 when it was 142.3.

The share of those who see jobs as plentiful fell to 48.9% in August, from 49.4% in July. The proportion of those who expect their personal incomes to increase rose to 25.2%, from 23.7%.

In the August survey, 4.5% said they plan to buy a house, compared with 4.4% in July.

"People say, I've got a job, I can make my payments,' " said Jim Zeumer, vice president of Pulte Corp., the largest U.S. home builder.

The share of those who plan to buy autos fell to 9.2%, from 10.5%, and the share of those who plan to buy major appliances fell to 30.4%, from 32.5% a month earlier.

The Conference Board's index uses 1985 as a base of 100. About 5,000 households are surveyed on their attitudes toward business conditions, jobs, and their personal income. Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of the nation's economic activity, and continued strength in consumer confidence suggests more fuel for growth.

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