Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Consumer confidence: biggest jump in 6 years

Despite Americans saying 'jobs are hard to get,' the index hits its highest level in 8 months.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)


NEW YORK (Reuters) -- U.S. consumer confidence soared in May to its highest level in eight months as severe strains in the labor market showed some signs of easing, though Americans' moods remained depressed by historical standards.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said on Tuesday its index of consumer attitudes jumped to 54.9 in May from a revised 40.8 in April, the biggest one-month jump since April 2003. Economists had been looking for a much smaller rise to 42.0.

Fewer Americans said jobs were "hard to get," the survey found, with that measure slipping to 44.7% from 46.6%. Those saying jobs were plentiful climbed to a still meager 5.7%, but that was still higher than April's 4.9%.

"Consumers are considerably less pessimistic than they were earlier this year," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's Consumer Research Center.

The data was in line with other evidence suggesting that, while the economy continues to contract in the current quarter, the pace of deterioration has abated somewhat.

U.S. stocks extended their rally after the data, with the Dow Jones industrial average up 120 points or 1.5%.

The survey offered mixed messages regarding Americans' propensity to spend money. The proportion of those who said they planned on buying a car over the next six months rose to 5.5%, its highest in at least a year.

But fewer intended to buy homes -- only 2.3%, a tough break for one of the hardest hit sectors in the country's economic crisis. A separate report on Tuesday revealed U.S. home prices dropped 18.7% in March compared to a year earlier. To top of page

They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
Driving the ultimate in '50s Mercedes-Benz style The SC was the car that re-introduced Mercedes-Benz as a global luxury car icon. More
Driving the world's first car Driving a replica of the 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen, the first internal combustion automobile. More
Your guide to Cyber Monday sales This year, more Cyber Monday sales than ever start well before Monday. Here's where to shop if you don't get your fill on Black Friday. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Copyright 2009 Reuters All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.