Con­sumer con­fi­dence up to high­est level since 2000


Amer­i­can con­sumers are the most con­fi­dent they’ve been since 2000.

The Con­fer­ence Board says its con­sumer con­fi­dence in­dex rose to 130.8 in Fe­bru­ary, the high­est since Novem­ber 2000 and up from 124.3 in Jan­uary.

The busi­ness re­search group’s in­dex mea­sures con­sumers’ as­sess­ment of cur­rent con­di­tions and their out­look for the next six months. They feel bet­ter about to­day’s econ­omy than they have since March 2001. Their out­look also im­proved.

Tax cuts passed into law last year are start­ing to show up in work­ers’ pay­checks. “As peo­ple slowly ab­sorb the de­tails of the tax re­form pack­age, opin­ion polls sug­gest that it is be­com­ing sig­nif­i­cantly more pop­u­lar,” Stephen Stan­ley, chief econ­o­mist at Amherst Pier­pont Se­cu­ri­ties, wrote in a re­search note.

A strong job mar­ket is also boost­ing con­fi­dence. The un­em­ploy­ment rate has stayed at a 17-year low 4.1 per­cent. Con­sumers shrugged off volatil­ity in the stock mar­ket.

“Over­all, con­sumers re­main quite con­fi­dent that the econ­omy will con­tinue ex­pand­ing at a strong pace in the months ahead,” says Lynn Franco, the Con­fer­ence Board’s di­rec­tor of eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors.

Econ­o­mists watch the Con­fer­ence Board re­port closely be­cause con­sumer spend­ing ac­counts for about 70 per­cent of U.S. eco­nomic out­put.

The over­all in­dex hit bot­tom at 25.3 in Fe­bru­ary 2009 at the depths of the Great Re­ces­sion be­fore re­bound­ing as the U.S. econ­omy re­cov­ered.

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