The consumer confidence index surged to 70.8 in February from an upwardly revised 61.5 last month, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.

Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted the index would be 63.0. The January index was originally reported as 61.1.

The present situation index rose to 45.0 from an upwardly revised 38.8, originally reported as 38.4, while the expectations index gained to 88.0 from an upwardly revised 76.7, originally reported as 76.2.

“Consumer confidence, which had declined last month, posted a sizeable improvement in February,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s consumer research center. “The index is now close to levels seen a year ago (Feb. 2011, 72.0). Consumers are considerably less pessimistic about current business and labor market conditions than they were in January. And, despite further increases in gas prices, they are more optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy, job prospects and their financial situation.”

Business conditions were called “good” by 13.3% of respondents in February, up from 13.2% in January. Those saying conditions are “bad” slid to 31.2% from 38.3%.

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