Consumer confidence rose more than economists expected in August, climbing to 53.5 from 51 in July, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.

The August reading compares with a year-ago level of 54.5.

Ellen Beeson Zentner, a senior economist with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, said the increase is more a case of “time healing all wounds” than a response to improving economic circumstances. The index hit a record low in February.

“The recovery [has been] too gradual to suggest anything other than the passage of time,” she said.

“One year into economic recovery, confidence remains miles below where it should be, given the fact that historically, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index has averaged a reading of 80 in recovery,” Zentner said.

The present situation index slipped to 24.9 from 26.4 in July.

The expectations index increased to 72.5 from 67.5.

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