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Consumer Confidence Index jumps nine points in February

The closely watched Consumer Confidence Index jumped more than nine points in February as consumers were more optimistic about current business conditions and the job market.

The February index stood at 70.8, up from 61.5 in January. The index is now close to levels seen early last year, when it hit 72 in February 2011.

"Consumers are considerably less pessimistic about current business and labor market conditions than they were in January," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "And despite further increases in gas prices, they are more optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy, job prospects and their financial situation."

The latest monthly survey also showed that consumers' assessment of current conditions were more favorable in February.

Those claiming business conditions were "good" increased slightly to 13.3% from 13.2%, while those claiming business conditions were "bad" decreased to 31.2% from 38.3%.

In addition, those stating jobs are "plentiful" increased to 6.6% from 6.2%, while those saying jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 38.7% from 43.3%.

The number of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.7% from 16.7% in January, while those believing business conditions will worsen dropped to 11.8% from 14.6%.

The survey also showed that 15.4% of consumers are expecting an increase in their personal income. That's up from 13.8% in January.

The monthly survey is conducted for the Conference Board by the Nielsen research firm.

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