NU Online News Service, July 26, 2004, 5:24 p.m. EST

Rich U.S. residents are feeling better about the American economy.[@@]

McDonald Financial Group, Cleveland, has published data to support that conclusion in a report on a survey conducted by researchers at Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, New York.

In late June and early July, researchers interviewed 400 U.S. residents who had at least $500,000 in investable assets or annual incomes of at least $150,000.

McDonald’s July confidence index for affluent consumers is 61 out of 100, up from an index of 44 recorded in July 2003.

The index is set up so that scores over 50 indicate optimism and scores under 50 indicate pessimism.

When researchers conducted the latest survey, 72% of the survey participants said the economy is moving in the right direction, up from 58% a year earlier.

But 56% of the participants said there is a real estate bubble, up from 32% in July 2003.