Consumer confidence rebounds

WASHINGTON — Consumer confidence rebounded in April as Americans felt better about the economy's short-term prospects and their own incomes, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The group's Consumer Confidence Index rose to 68.1 this month after dropping to 61.9 in March.

But while the reading showed an improvement, it was too soon to tell "if confidence is actually on the mend," said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board's director of economic indicators.

She noted that "consumers' confidence has been challenged several times over the past few months" by a series of events, including the concerns about the fiscal cliff, the payroll tax increase that kicked in on Jan. 1, and the looming federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

Consumers' views of the current economic conditions improved moderately in April. But people were much more optimistic about the short-term outlook.

The percentage of respondents who expected business conditions to improve, which could lead to more jobs, in the next six months increased to 16.9 percent from 15 percent in March. In addition, the percentage of consumers who expected increased income rose to 16.8 percent from 14.6 percent.

The Conference Board data were somewhat at odds with another leading gauge of consumer confidence released last week.

The Thompson Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers index fell 2.8 percent in April from the previous month.

But the figure had been lower earlier in the month and had picked up toward the end of April.


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