Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Americans’ sentiment approached a 17-year high last week on increasingly upbeat views of the economy and personal finances, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed Thursday. Weekly index increased to 57.6, the fourth straight advance, from 57.3; best reading since 58.1 in April, which was highest since February 2001. Gauge tracking current views of the economy advanced to 59.4, the highest since mid-March, from 58. Gauge of personal finances at 64 after 63.9; measure of buying climate slipped to 49.4 from 49.9. Americans’ views of the economy have been bolstered by an unemployment rate matching the lowest since 1969 and tax cuts that have fattened wallets, along with fuel prices that have cooled from a three-year high in May. Sentiment was divided along income lines; among respondents earning more than $100,000, the index was the highest in data back to 2004, while it fell to a three-month low for those with incomes below $15,000.

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