Consumer Confidence Jumps; Midwest Manufacturing Contracts

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U.S. consumer confidence rebounded in April as Americans felt better about the outlook for the economy and their income prospects while a separate report showed that Midwest manufacturing contracted slightly.

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes rose to 68.1 from an upwardly revised 61.9 in March. Economists had expected a reading of 60.8, according to a Reuters poll.

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March was originally reported as 59.7. The expectations index gained to 73.3 from 63.7, while the present situation index improved to 60.4 from 59.2.

Even so, consumers remain vulnerable to concerns over the recent payroll tax hike and the $85 billion in automatic government spending cuts known as the sequester that was triggered last month, the report said.

"While expectations appear to have bounced back, it is too soon to tell if confidence is actually on the mend," Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement.

Consumers' labor market assessment was mixed. The "jobs hard to get" index rose to 37.1 percent from 35.4 percent the month before, while the "jobs plentiful" index also gained to 9.8 percent from 9.5 percent.

Consumers felt better about price increases with expectations for inflation in the coming 12 months falling to 5.5 percent from 5.8 percent.

In a separate report, the Chicago PMI index hit 49.0 in April. Analysts expected the index to rise slightly in April to 52.5, up from 52.4 in March. PMI index readings above 50 signal an increase or improvement on the prior month.