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NEW YORK (AP) — Americans' concerns about jobs and inflation eased somewhat in April, pushing the Consumer Confidence Index higher.
The increase comes after an unexpected drop in March. But the measure had risen for five consecutive months before that and hit a three-year high in February.
"Consumer's short-term outlook improved slightly, suggesting that the uncertainty expressed last month is easing," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement. "Inflation expectations, which had spiked, retreated somewhat in April."
The Conference Board said Tuesday the index rose to 65.4 from a revised 63.8 in March. Economists expected a smaller rise to 64.8, according to FactSet.
The index is still far from the reading of 90 that indicates a healthy economy. It hasn't approached that level since the recession began in December 2007.
Economists monitor confidence because consumer spending, including big-ticket items such as housing and health care, accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity and is critical for a strong rebound.
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