Consumer confidence gains in May

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The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased in May, its third consecutive monthly gain.

The index now stands at 63.3, up from 57.7 in April. The Present Situation Index increased to 30.2 from 28.2. The Expectations Index improved to 85.3 from 77.4 last month.

"Consumer confidence posted its third consecutive monthly gain and, although still weak by historical levels, appears to be gaining some traction," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement.

"Consumers' apprehension about current business conditions and the job market continues to slowly dissipate. Consumers' expectations, on the other hand, have increased sharply over the past three months, propelling the Expectations Index to prerecession levels," Franco added. "The improvement has been fueled primarily by growing optimism about business and labor market conditions. Income expectations, however, remain downbeat."

Consumers' assessment of current-day conditions continued to improve in May.

Those saying conditions are "good" increased to 10 percent from 8.9 percent, while those saying business conditions are "bad" declined to 39.3 percent from 40 percent.

Consumers' appraisal of the labor market was also more positive. Those claiming jobs are "hard to get" decreased to 43.6 percent from 44.8 percent, while those saying jobs are "plentiful" was virtually unchanged at 4.6 percent.

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