WASHINGTON DC: US consumers were more confident than expected about the country's economy during September, thanks to a drop in energy prices and an improvement in job prospects.

The Conference Board said its index of consumer sentiment climbed to 104.5, bettering economists' expectations of 102.3, and up from August's 100.2.

Lynn Franco, director of the board's Consumer Research Center, is cautious, however: "Even though consumers' concerns have eased, there is little to suggest a significant change in economic activity as we enter the final quarter of 2006."

Data sourced from Washington Post Online; additional information by WARC staff