WASHINGTON – Consumer confidence rose in April to a nine-month high, showing Americans are growing more upbeat about the economy as the labor market gains traction.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of sentiment increased to 84.1 from a four-month low of 80 in March. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 83 after a preliminary April reading of 82.6.
Consumers were more optimistic about current conditions than at any time since July 2007 as smaller ranks of the unemployed, near-record stock prices and higher property values help bolster household finances. Further strides in the labor market that generate bigger wage gains would provide additional impetus for the consumer spending that makes up almost 70 percent of the economy.
“Consumer sentiment continues to chug higher,” said Brett Ryan, an economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York. “It means people are getting jobs or incomes are increasing or they feel a little bit more stable about their situation.”
Estimates of the 63 economists in the Bloomberg survey ranged from 78.5 to 85. The index averaged 89 in the five years before December 2007, when the last recession began, and 64.2 in the 18-month contraction that followed.
Stocks remained lower after the figures as results from Amazon.com Inc. to Visa Inc. disappointed and tension escalated over Ukraine. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.6 percent to 1,867.39 at 10:33 a.m. in New York.
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