The S&P/Case-Shiller Composite Index, which gauges housing prices, rose 1.6% in July compared with the previous month, largely surpassing economists' forecasts. The index rose 1.4% in June. But this indication of economic recovery was overshadowed by a drop in consumer confidence. The Conference Board's index dropped to 53.1 this month from a revised 54.5 in August. The high unemployment rate worried consumers most. "While not as pessimistic as earlier this year, consumers remain quite apprehensive about the short-term outlook and their incomes," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center.

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