(Carl Cronan is editor of RealEstateFlorida.)

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GAINESVILLE, FL-The state's consumer confidence index hasreached 67 this month, up six points from the revised July numberand rebounding strongly from an all-time low of 59 in June, theUniversity of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Researchreports. Researchers believe the new index means Floridians havelearned to take bad news in stride.

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"Although gas prices are coming down a bit, consumers have nowadjusted to higher prices," says Chris McCarty, director of thebureau's Survey Research Center at UF's campus in Gainesville."Much of the pain from the housing downturn has also been absorbed.At this point, most people are looking forward to a turnaround inthe economy some time next year."

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Two index components, related to national economic conditions,showed double-digit increases in the latest survey releasedTuesday. Perceptions about personal finances rose slightly over thepast month, while those considering whether now is a good time tobuy big-ticket items were flat.

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McCarty points to signs that prices for single-family homes inFlorida are beginning to stabilize after many months of decline,while those for condominiums appear to keep falling. Thatstabilization of housing prices will ultimately lead to stabilityin financial markets, he says.

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Retail sales have dipped with the previous drop in consumerconfidence, as reflected by falling sales tax revenue, according toMcCarty. "We will no doubt have a very weak holiday season, butmany people are looking past that to better times," he says.

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The UF Survey Research Center conducts its consumer attitudesurvey each month, based on responses from more than 400 residentsstatewide telephoned at random. The confidence index aims to helppredict consumers' buying patterns and tends to provide a quickermeasurement than other economic indicators.

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