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Polling company GfK said its monthly consumer confidence index rose to +1 in August from -2 in July, beating forecasts for a smaller increase to -1 in a Reuters poll. Nick Moon, managing director of social research at GfK, said it looked like consumer confidence might be entering a new period of stability. All five of the measures GfK uses to gauge consumer confidence increased this month. Data company Hometrack said house prices grew just 0.1 percent for a second successive month in August, with London underperforming relative to the rest of England and Wales.
The International Monetary Fund on Thursday urged the US to boost incomes for the poor, including raising the minimum wage, saying that would help sustain the country's rebound from the Great Recession. Senior IMF economist Deniz Igan argued in a report posted on the IMF website that a combination of a higher minimum wage and an increase in a key tax benefit could go far to help lift people out of poverty. "Unless the economic benefits of an improving economy are felt more widely, this recovery may well prove neither economically nor socially sustainable." Plunging into a fight that has divided the major US political parties, Igan rejected arguments that increasing the minimum wage, now $7.25 an hour, would cause companies to hire significantly fewer workers.