U.S. consumers are more confident than they've been in three years, according to the data released today by the Conference Board.
The organization's consumer confidence index reached the highest figure since early 2008, rising to 70.4 percent for February, from 64.8 percent in January.
"We expect consumer confidence and spending to keep improving in 2011 due to a rising stock market, an improving job market, and increased household income," Chris Christopher, economist at IHS Global Insight said in a statement.
"However, rising gasoline and food prices, turmoil in the Middle East, and a poor housing market are putting a damper on things and keeping consumer confidence at relatively depressed levels," Christopher added.
The index, which is based on a survey conducted by the Conference Board, also found that fewer consumers expected jobs to open up in the months ahead. 19.8 percent of those surveyed expected more jobs to open up in February, compared to 20.8 percent in January. However, the percentage of consumers who expected to make more money also rose slightly to 17.3 percent from 15.3 percent.
American consumers would have seen slightly larger paychecks in January as the social security tax cut kicked in, which may have spurred confidence and may lead to more spending. However, the survey stopped on February 10, before concerns over gas prices set in, following unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, Barron's explains.
This was the fifth consecutive increase in the monthly index. In January, consumer confidence hit an eight-month high.
What do you think? Is the economy improving?