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Consumer Confidence Index jumps more than six points in April

NEW YORK - The Consumer Confidence Index gained more than six points in April to stand at 68.1, up from 61.9 in March, the Conference Board reported today.

The Present Situation Index increased to 60.4 from 59.2 (1985=100) while the Expectations Index improved to 73.3 from 63.7 last month.

This month's gain continued the index's up-and-down pattern for the year. It rose 10 points in February and declined eight points in March before the April gain. The cutoff date for this month's survey, done for The Conference Board by Nielsen, was April 18.

"Consumer Confidence improved in April, as consumers' expectations about the short-term economic outlook and their income prospects improved," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. "However, consumers' confidence has been challenged several times over the past few months by such events as the fiscal cliff, the payroll tax hike and the sequester. Thus, while expectations appear to have bounced back, it is too soon to tell if confidence is actually on the mend."

Consumers' assessment of current conditions improved moderately in April. Those saying business conditions are "good" increased to 17.2% from 16.4%, while those stating business conditions are "bad" decreased to 28.1% from 29.1%.

Consumers' assessment of the labor market was mixed. Those claiming jobs are "plentiful" edged up to 9.8% from 9.5%. However, those claiming jobs are "hard to get" increased to 37.1% from 35.4%.

Consumers were considerably more upbeat about the short-term outlook. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 16.9% from 15%, while those anticipating business conditions to worsen decreased to 15.1% from 17.7%.

Consumers' outlook for the labor market was also more positive. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead improved to 14.2% from 13%, while those expecting fewer jobs decreased to 22.4% from 26%. The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to increase rose to 16.8% from 14.6%, while those expecting a decrease declined to 16% from 17.7%.

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