U.S. consumer confidence rebounds

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Consumers aren’t as confident about the economy as they were last summer. But they are not gloomy, either.

Consumer confidence jumped in March, reflecting more optimism among Americans as stock markets rebounded from steep losses early in the year and worries about a recession faded.

The index of consumer confidence climbed to 96.2 last month, beating the Wall Street forecast. Economists polled by MarketWatch had projected the index to rise to 94.2.

The index reading for February was also revised higher to 94.0 from 92.2, the privately run Conference Board said Tuesday.

Americans turned “more favorable as last month’s turmoil in the financial markets appears to have abated. On balance, consumers do not foresee the economy gaining any significant momentum in the near-term, nor do they see it worsening,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at board.

The present situation index, a measure of current conditions, slipped to 113.5 from 115.0. But the future expectations index rose to 84.7 from 79.9.

Steve Murphy of Capital Economics said the level of confidence suggests the slowdown in consumer spending in the first quarter is likely to be short-lived.

Consumer confidence hit a postrecession high of 103.8 in early 2015 and it’s hovered mostly in the high 90s since then. The index reached an all-time peak of 144.7 in 2000.

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