As Americans became more optimistic that their finances would soon improve, the Conference Board consumer confidence index rose to 70.4% in February, the highest level since the same month in 2008.
"Consumers are more positive about the economy and their income prospects, but feel somewhat mixed about employment conditions," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's consumer research center.
The improvement came despite lingering pessimism about the grim but slowly improving U.S. jobs market. With the unemployment rate still at 9%, the number of Americans expecting more job opportunities in the months ahead actually fell.
Meanwhile respondents said they expected their own incomes to rise.
Economists were optimistic that the improved sentiment -- which is seen as a sign of likely spending and investment -- could be sustained.
"We expect this trend to continue in the near term, particularly as the labor recovery persists," said Theresa Chen of Barclays Capital.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011