The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to from -47.1 to -45.9 in the week ended June 5, the third straight week it has risen and its best reading since the end of April.

Across income groups, sentiment improved the most among those earning less than $50,000 a year.

In addition, the comfort report’s gauge of personal finances rose to -8.5 from -13.4 the previous week, its best reading in a month and the 4.9-point gain the largest since February.

Bloomberg attributed the improvement to a 26-cent drop in the average cost of gasoline to $3.73 from its peak of $3.99 on May 4. Nonetheless, unemployment is stuck at 9.1% and job growth is very slow, Bloomberg noted.

 Cheaper gasoline “has lifted sentiment temporarily off the mat,” said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist at Bloomberg. However, he added, “confidence, like the U.S. economy, remains stuck in second gear. The slowdown in private sector hiring and increase in the unemployment rate pose a potent risk to consumer confidence heading into the second half of 2011.”

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index is based on telephone interviews with 1,000 consumers aged 18 and over.

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