U.S. consumer confidence rises in March

Consumer confidence increased in March as consumers expressed cautious optimism regarding the economy and job prospects, according to The Conference Board.

The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index rose to 82.3 in March from 78.3 in February. 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 crucial part of a strong rebound.

Those expecting business conditions to improve during the next six months increased to 18.1 percent from 17.3 percent, and those expecting business conditions to worsen decreased to 10.2 percent from 13.6 percent.

Additionally, 13.9 percent expect more jobs during the next six months compared with 13.7 percent in February. Those expecting fewer jobs decreased from 20.9 percent to 18 percent.

"Consumer confidence improved in March as expectations for the short-term outlook bounced back from February's decline," says Lynn Franco, The Conference Board's director of economic indicators. "While consumers were moderately more upbeat about future job prospects and the overall economy, they were less optimistic about income growth. The present situation index, which had been on an upward trend for the past four months, was relatively unchanged in March. Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue improving and believe it may even pick up a little steam in the months ahead."

Date : 4/2/2014