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Confidence Rebounds

New York — With Americans feeling better about the economy and the jobs outlook, consumer confidence reversed a three-month losing streak during May and rebounded 4.8 percent to a reading of 102.2, The Conference Board reported.

But even with the spike, the confidence level is still 3.3 percent beneath its 12-month high of 105.7 recorded last July. And results were mixed on a regional basis, with confidence levels up in five regions, but declining in four others. The biggest gain, 24.2 percent, was recorded in New England, while the biggest drop, 10 percent, was posted in the Middle Atlantic states.

“Consumer confidence improved in May, gaining back nearly all of the ground it lost in April,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. The index gauging current business conditions, she said, “despite fluctuations in recent months, is more than 26 points higher than a year ago. Consumers' concerns about the economy and jobs have eased.”

Going forward, she said, the index tracking expectations, “while slightly below year-ago levels, continues to signal economic growth in the months ahead.”

Scoping out current economic conditions, consumers turned more positive, with the number describing business conditions as bad declining to 16.8 percent from 17.6 percent in April. But the employment picture was mixed. The number who said jobs are hard to get increased to 24.2 percent from 22.9 percent. On the other hand, the number said jobs are plentiful rose to 22.6 percent from 20.4 percent.

Confidence by region

Region % change
Source: The Conference Board
New England 24.2%
Middle Atlantic -10.0
East North Central 3.8
West North Central -4.8
South Atlantic 9.8
East South Central -2.6
West South Central -1.2
Mountain 5.4
Pacific 4.2


May buying plans
Plans to purchase over the next six months

Source: The Conference Board
Homes -14.6%
Carpets 9.4
Cars 31.0
Major appliances -0.3
Vacation -1.4


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