Consumer Confidence Jumps in April

The swift outcome of the U.S. attack on Iraq apparently has apparently given the U.S. economy a much-needed shot in the arm. Consumer confidence, which had been plunging for the previous four months, bolted upward in April, according to the latest Conference Board consumer confidence index. The April index rose to 81.0 from 61.4 in March, far above the 70.0 that the Conference Board says analysts had expected.

The war’s fairly rapid outcome “has helped quell consumers’ short-term concerns,” Lynn Franco, director of the New York-based Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center, said in a statement. But the Conference Board noted that the April results are from a partial sample of at least 2,500 respondents and are subject to revision once the full, 3,500-household sample is compiled.

Among other findings, the expectations index rose to 84.8 from 61.4, while the present situation index improved to 75.3 from 61.4. The increase in the present situation index “may very well signal a turnaround in confidence and a more favorable outlook for consumer spending,” Franco said.

Those rating present business conditions as “bad” decreased to 23.7% from 30.0% in March, while those seeing present conditions as “good” rose to 16.2% from 13.6%. The portion of consumers reporting that jobs are hard to get declined to 29.5% from 32.3%, while those finding jobs plentiful increased to 13.0% from 11.4%.