Consumer confidence rises

It is a pleasure to reports good news for a change.

U.S. consumer confidence jumped to 54.9 in May from an upwardly revised 40.8 in April as expectations for jobs improved, according to the Conference Board, reports Market Watch. The gain is the fourth largest in the 32-year history of the survey, and the index is at its highest level in eight months, and 11 points higher than expected.

"Expectations are that business conditions, the labor market and incomes will improve in the coming months," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "While confidence is still weak by historical standards, as far as consumers are concerned, the worst is now behind us."

Confidence has "a long way to go" before hitting "normal" levels, wrote Ellen Beeson Zentner, senior U.S. macroeconomist with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, in a research note. During recessions, confidence has averaged 76.3, rising to 85.9 during recoveries, and 99.8 during expansions.

For May, consumers' expectations rose to 72.3 from 51 as those expecting business conditions to improve rose to 23.1 percent from 15.7 percent, and those expecting more jobs rose to 20 percent from 14.2 percent. Consumers' appraisal of the present situation rose to 28.9 from 25.5, though many still view business conditions as "bad."

According to economist Stephen Gallagher of Societe General, the increase in confidence could lead to more spending.