NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Consumer confidence stood still last week, with weak ratings of the national economy offsetting less gloomy public views of personal finances and the buying climate.
For the third consecutive week, the ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index is unchanged at -17 on its scale of positive 100 to negative 100. That's near its best-of-the-year rating of -15, though below its long-term average of -9.
Twenty-seven percent of Americans rate the nation's economy as excellent or good, unchanged from the week prior but well below the category's long-term average of 41 percent. The highest level of confidence reported for this category was set at 80 percent in January 2000.
But consumers expressed greater security in regards to their own finances. Fifty-eight percent of respondents rate their own finances as excellent or good, up a modest 1 percentage point from the previous week and slightly above the category's 57 percent average. The highest level of confidence in this category was set at 70 percent in August 1998 and was last matched in January 2000.
The survey's buying gauge, which measures consumers' willingness to spend, also stayed level with the previous week's readings. Forty percent of Americans say it's an excellent or good time to buy things they want or need, which puts it closer to its 57 percent high, set in January 2000, as opposed to its 20 percent low, set in the fall of 1990.
Confidence, as usual, is higher among better-off Americans. The index stands at +5 among people in higher-income households compared to -42 in the lowest.
The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index represents a rolling average based on telephone interviews with a random sample of about 1,000 adults nationwide each month. This week's results are based on 1,003 interviews in the month ended August 10, and have an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.