U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Jumps To Post-Recession High

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Consumer confidence in the U.S. unexpectedly improved in the month of September, according to a report released by the Conference Board on Tuesday.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index jumped to 104.1 in September from an upwardly revised 101.8 in August.

The increase came as a surprise to economists, who had expected the index to drop 98.8 from the 101.1 originally reported for the previous month.

"Consumer confidence increased in September for a second consecutive month and is now at its highest level since the recession," said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.

She added, "Overall, consumers continue to rate current conditions favorably and foresee moderate economic expansion in the months ahead."

The unexpected increase by the headline index was partly due to an improvement in consumers' assessment of current economic conditions.

The present situation index climbed to 128.5 in September from 125.3 in August due largely to a more positive view of the labor market.

Consumers saying jobs were "plentiful" increased to 27.9 percent from 26.8 percent, while those claiming jobs are "hard to get" declined to 21.6 percent from 22.8 percent.

While consumer saying business conditions are "bad" fell to 16.2 percent from 18.2 percent, those saying conditions are "good" also dipped to 27.4 percent from 30.3 percent.

The Conference Board said optimism regarding the short-term outlook was also more favorable, with the expectations index rising to 87.7 in September from 86.1 in August.

"Looking ahead, consumers are more upbeat about the short-term employment outlook, but somewhat neutral about business conditions and income prospects," said Franco.

The percentage of consumers expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased to 15.1 percent from 14.4 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs edged down to 17.0 percent from 17.5 percent.

Consumers expecting business conditions to worsen over the next six months dipped to 10.2 percent from 11.4 percent, although consumers expecting conditions to improve also slipped to 16.5 percent from 17.6 percent.

The report also said the percentage of consumers expecting their incomes to increase fell to 17.1 percent from 18.5 percent, while the proportion expecting a decline decreased to 10.3 percent from 11.0 percent.

Friday morning, the Conference Board is scheduled to release its revised report on consumer sentiment in the month of September.

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