U.S. Consumer Confidence Improves Slightly

Consumers seem to be confident enough to commit to new purchases of big ticket items such as cars and housing.

After a sharp fall the month before, U.S. consumer confidence improved marginally in April, according to closely watched survey published on April 26.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose from 63.8% to 65.4% this month, as consumers still felt the pinch from higher prices.

The report was better than most economists had expected.

The index had fallen from 70.4% in February as Americans paid more for gasoline at the pump.

However Lynn Franco, author of the study, said, "inflation expectations, which had spiked, retreated somewhat in April."

"Overall, we judge this to be a mildly encouraging surprise that suggests the pace of economic activity will pick up a bit after the first quarter lull," said David Resler of Nomura.

Resler said that a brighter mood about jobs and overall business conditions was especially encouraging.

"Consumers also seem to be confident enough to commit to new purchases of big ticket items such as cars and housing."

That is good news for the multitude of U.S. firms that depend on consumer spending to sell their products.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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