U.S. consumer confidence climbed in July to the highest level in six years, according to a consumer sentiment index released Friday. \' The final reading of the consumer sentiment rose to 85.1 in July from 84.1 in June, the highest since July 2007, the monthly Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index showed. The new figure is also better than the preliminary reading of 83.9 in the first half of July. Rising house prices are believed to increase personal wealth perception, which in turn pumps up confidence and consumer spending. The component of the index reflecting Americans\' perceptions of their financial situation and whether they consider it a good time to buy big-ticket items like houses or cars edged up to 98.6 in July from 93.8 in June. However, the index\'s component gauging consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, dipped to 76.5 in July from 77.8 in June. This was better than the preliminary July reading of 73.8. The index averaged 64.2 during the last recession, from December 2007 to June 2009, and was at 89 in the five years leading up to the recession. The survey results are released twice each month, one preliminary and the other final.