Consumer confidence at a three-year high

NEW YORK — The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index reached 70.4 in February, a three-year high from February 2008, thanks to growing optimism about the short-term future.

Consumers' assessment of present-day conditions improved moderately in February, with 12.4% of consumers stating business conditions are "good" (up from 11.3%), while those claiming business conditions are "bad" was unchanged at 39.6%. Looking ahead, more consumers (0.4%) said they expect business conditions to improve over the next six months, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen declined to 10.4% from 12.2%.

The outlook on the job market, however, was mixed, with less consumers expecting more jobs in the near future (19.8% from 20.8% in January), although those anticipating fewer jobs decreased to 15.4% from 21.2%.

"The Consumer Confidence Index is now at a three-year high (February 2008, 76.4) due to growing optimism about the short-term future," noted Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions has improved moderately, but still remains rather weak. Looking ahead, consumers are more positive about the economy and their income prospects, but feel somewhat mixed about employment conditions."

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