A weekly measure of U.S. consumer confidence was flat for the fourth straight week in the latest period, resting at its lowest level in over five years, the ABC News/Money Magazine poll showed on Wednesday.

ABC/Money said its Consumer Comfort Index was unchanged at -13 in the latest week, the lowest level since August 1996. The index ranges from positive 100 to negative 100.

But the poll's results conflict with more closely watched monthly indicators of confidence — published by the Conference Board and the University of Michigan — which both showed confidence improving recently.

Meanwhile, a separate monthly question regarding Americans' outlook on near-term economic prospects found persistent pessimism among respondents.

Only 25 percent of Americans see the economy improving, while 36 percent think things are still getting worse, the poll found.

The ABC/Money survey showed the proportion of Americans who said the economy is in good shape rose a marginal one percentage point to 33 percent in the latest week. The best ever reading was 80 percent in late 1991 and early 1992.

Fifty-eight percent of consumers rated their personal finances as excellent or good, also up one percentage point from last week, but down considerably since a record high reading of 70 percent in January 2000.

The buying climate gauge, a measure of consumers' willingness to spend, slipped one percentage point to 40 percent on the week.

The ABC News/Money Magazine Consumer Comfort Index represents a rolling average based on telephone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide each month. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.

This week's results are based on 1,030 interviews taken over four weeks ended Jan 20.