New York State consumers expressed the highest confidence in the economy last month since July 2007, according to a monthly index by the Siena Research Institute.

The willingness to spend increased 10.9 points, while the nation's rate slipped by 0.3 point, according to the latest poll by the institute, based in upstate Loudonville.

Institute founding director Doug Lonnstrom said the increase was "the single largest monthly spike in Siena's 12 years tracking consumer sentiment," attributing it in part to good economic news last month.

The number of New Yorkers who said they intended to make major purchases, such as for furniture, was up 5.7 points to 22.7 percent. That's the "most robust rate since June of 2007," Lonnstrom said.

But he added, "Sudden turmoil in the Mideast and the reality of a new state budget with painful cuts could blow out the candles on this cake."

Also, worries about retail gasoline prices remain. Sixty percent of survey respondents said gas prices were having "a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their financial condition."

The most recent data for Long Island gathered by the institute is for the fourth quarter of 2010, when consumer confidence increased 1.6 points to 67.7.

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