Confidence Index Rises, Especially ShortTerm Outlook

Consumers in April were feeling better than they had in several weeks. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index jumped 12 points in April after a slight improvement in March, posting its highest reading so far in 2009, the board announced last week.

The Index stands at 39.2, up from 26.9 last month. In this survey, 1985 equals a rate of 100.

The Present Situation Index, a short-term measure, increased to 23.7 from 21.9 last month. The Expectations Index climbed to 49.5 from 30.2 in March.

"The sharp increase in the Expectations Index suggests that consumer believe the economy is nearing a bottom, however, this Index still remains well below levels associated with strong economic growth," said Lynn France, director of the Conference Board Research Center.

Consumers who felt business conditions are "bad" fell to 45.7% of 5,000 respondents from 51.0%. Those claiming business conditions are "good" rose to 7.6% from 6.9%. Consumers anticipating business will get worse over the next six months fell to 25.3% from 37.8%, while those expecting improvement jumped to 15.6% from 9.6%.

Their outlook on employment was also less jaundiced than it has been through the winter. Consumers expecting fewer jobs fell to 33.6% from 41.6%. Those anticipating more jobs rose to 13.9% from 7.3%.

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