Posted April 29, 2009
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Consumer Confidence

U.S. consumer confidence rises in April

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumer confidence rose in April to its highest this year with some expectations the economic downturn may be reaching a bottom.

The Conference Board's sentiment index climbed to 39.2 this month from an upwardly revised 26.9 in March. The April reading, which was above economists' median expectation for a reading of 29.8, was the highest since November 2008.

The increase in the index was the highest seen since November 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The original March reading was 26, which was near an all-time low for the index, which dates back to 1967.

The survey's expectations index jumped to 49.5 this month from 30.2 in March.

"The sharp increase in the expectations index suggests that consumers believe the economy is nearing a bottom, however this index remains well below levels associated with strong economic growth," said Lynn Franco, director of the industry group's Consumer Research Center.

Consumers assessment of present-day conditions improved moderately, with those claiming business conditions are "bad" easing to 45.7 percent from 51.0 percent, while those claiming business conditions are "good" rose to 7.6 percent from 6.9 percent.

Consumers expecting business conditions to worsen over the next six months declined to 25.3 percent from 37.8 percent, while those expecting conditions to improve rose to 15.6 percent from 9.6 percent in March.

(Reporting by Chris Reese; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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