U.S. consumer confidence rises in February

Consumer confidence increased in February as consumers' concerns about fiscal cliff uncertainty and payroll tax cuts seemed to lessen, according to The Conference Board.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index rose to 69.6 in February from 58.4 in January. A reading of 90 or higher indicates a healthy economy.

The index measures how shoppers feel about business conditions, the job market and the next six months. Economists watch the index closely because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity and is a critical part of a strong rebound.

Those expecting business conditions to improve during the next six months rose to 18.9 percent from 15.6 percent, and those expecting business conditions to worsen decreased from 20.4 percent to 16.5 percent.

Additionally, 16.7 percent expect more jobs during the next six months compared with 14.4 percent in January. Those expecting fewer jobs decreased from 26.7 percent to 21.5 percent.

"Consumer confidence rebounded in February as the shock effect caused by the fiscal cliff uncertainty and payroll tax cuts appears to have abated," says Lynn Franco, The Conference Board's director of economic indicators. "Consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions is more positive than last month. Looking ahead, consumers are cautiously optimistic about the outlook for business and labor market conditions. Income expectations, which had turned rather negative last month, have improved modestly."

Date : 2/27/2013