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Economy

US consumer confidence rebounds in February

Key Points
  • Consumer confidence increased in February as expectations rebounded following recent months of market volatility and the government shutdown, the Conference Board said.
  • The Conference board index had dropped in January amid worries about a government shutdown and stock-market volatility, which reflected higher interest rates and worries about trade tensions with China.
Shoppers carrying bags walk up Fifth Avenue in New York City. 
David Goldman | Getty Images

American consumers were feeling more confident this month after a rally in the stock market and an end to partial shutdown of the federal government.

The Conference Board, a business research group, says its consumer confidence index rose to 131.4 from 121.7 in January.

The index measures consumers' assessment of current economic conditions and their expectations for the next six months. Both rose in January. Consumers' views of today's economy were the sunniest since December 2000.

The Conference board index had dropped in January amid worries about a government shutdown that ended Jan. 25 and stock-market volatility, which reflected higher interest rates and worries about trade tensions with China. But stocks have rebounded since Christmas, and U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators have reported signs of progress toward ending a standoff.

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Real Estate

Housing starts tumble to lowest level in more than 2 years

Key Points
  • The number of homes being built in December plunged to the lowest level in more than two years.
  • It was a possible sign that developers are anticipating fewer new houses will be sold this year.
  • Permits to build housing, an indicator of future activity, increased just 0.3 percent in December.