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Consumer Confidence Rebounds to Six-Year High

After dropping into the high 70s range in February, the Conference Board’s gauge of consumer confidence moved back up to a six-year high in March, the group reported.

According to a release Tuesday, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index improved to 82.3 in the latest survey, up four points from February’s reading. It was the strongest index value since January 2008.

The increase stemmed from an improvement in the component Expectations Index, which increased to 83.5 from 76.5 the month prior—indicating an overall improvement in Americans’ economic outlook.

“Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue improving and believe it may even pick up a little steam in the months ahead,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board.

Speculating on the next six months, 18.1 percent of consumers said they expect business conditions to recover, up from 17.3 percent, while fewer expect conditions to worsen. The outlook for labor was also brighter, with 13.9 percent expecting more jobs to come, up slightly from 13.7 percent.

Optimism about income growth wasn’t as strong, on the other hand. The share of respondents expecting their incomes to grow fell almost a percentage point to 14.9 percent; at the same time, however, the share anticipating a decline also decreased, dropping to 12.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the Present Situation Index, a measure of consumer thoughts about current conditions, ended its four-month streak of increases with a slight fall back to 80.4.

Asked about current business conditions, 22.9 percent of respondents said the environment is “good,” while 23.2 percent said conditions are “bad”—marking increases for both responses. On the labor market, perceptions were largely unchanged: Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” decreased slightly to 13.1 percent, while those saying jobs are “hard to get” edged up to 33.0 percent.

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