Consumer confidence soars to 18-month high

By Julianne Pepitone, CNNMoney.com staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A key measure of consumer confidence jumped to its highest level in 18 months, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Conference Board, a New York-based business research group, said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 57.9 in April. That's up from a downwardly revised 52.3 in March.

Economists were expecting the index to increase to 53.5, according to a Briefing.com consensus survey. The measure is closely watched because consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the nation's economic activity.

Concerns about business and job market conditions continued to ease, said Conference Board director Lynn Franco in a statement. She added that "continued job growth" will really be the key to keeping the momentum going.

Despite April's increase, the index still remains at historically low levels. An overall reading above 90 indicates the economy is solid, and 100 or above indicates strong growth.

The report is based on a survey mailed to a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.

Job market outlook: The percentage of respondents expecting more jobs in the next six months rose to 18% in April from 14.1% in the prior month.

Similarly, those saying jobs are "hard to get" fell to 45% from 46.3% in March, while responses that jobs are "plentiful" ticked up to 4.8% from 4%.

Business conditions: Consumers anticipating business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 19.8% from 18% in March, the report said.

Respondents expecting conditions to worsen in the months ahead fell to 12.6% from 13.6%.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,172.68 -107.06 -0.62%
Nasdaq 4,527.69 -52.10 -1.14%
S&P 500 1,994.29 -16.11 -0.80%
Treasuries 2.55 -0.01 -0.58%
Data as of 9:09am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Oracle Corp 39.58 -0.22 -0.55%
Twenty-First Century... 34.52 -0.63 -1.79%
Comcast Corp 55.86 -0.88 -1.55%
Wells Fargo & Co 52.90 -0.46 -0.86%
Sigma-Aldrich Corp 136.40 34.03 33.24%
Data as of Sep 22

Sections

Shares in drugs companies take a beating after the U.S. made it harder for American firms to slash their tax bills by buying foreign rivals. More

There's plenty of data out there, but keep an eye on housing, manufacturing and people's spending. More

Google chairman Eric Schmidt says company is dropping out of ALEC, a conservative political group, because it is lying on climate change. More

A growing number of banks, including Citi and Bank of America, are launching accounts without paper checks. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.