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Metro area consumers more confident in June

Consumer confidence in the metropolitan area edged up in June as worries about the cost of gasoline and groceries eased.

The Siena College Research Institute Friday reported its consumer confidence index for Long Island, New York City and its northern suburbs was at 79.6 points last month, an increase of 0.3 from May.

Readings above 76 points indicate the number of people who are optimistic about their immediate financial well-being exceeds those who are pessimistic.

Forty-one percent of metro-area residents said prices for both gas and food were either somewhat or very serious problem. That was down from May's 43 percent and the lowest since March.

"With gas prices inching downward and overall [consumer] sentiment strengthening, it follows that concern about both gasoline and food prices lessened slightly" in June, Siena pollster Douglas Lonnstrom said.

He also said more residents statewide plan to make a big-ticket purchase between now and December.

A record 24.6 percent told Siena that they expect to buy furniture in the next six months, and 19.6 percent plan to start a major home improvement project, also a record.

Lonnstrom said, "Intent to purchase both home improvements and furniture hit six-year highs."

At the Long Island Rail Road station in Hempstead Village Friday, some commuters said they felt more upbeat about the economy and their jobs.

Stephanie Williams, a secretary for a law firm in Manhattan, said, "I think things are finally turning around. It seems like the recession is over."

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