The consumer confidence index jumped to 63.3 in May from a downwardly revised 57.7 last month, the Conference Board reported yesterday.

The April index was originally reported as 57.9. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters predicted the index would be 59.0. The present situation index climbed to 30.2 from a downwardly revised 28.2, originally reported as 28.6, while the expectations index increased to 85.3 from an unrevised 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’s Consumer Research Center.

“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 pre-recession levels (August 2007 89.2),” Franco said. “The improvement has been fueled primarily by growing optimism about business and labor market conditions. Income expectations, however, remain downbeat.”

Business conditions were termed “good” by 10.0% of respondents in May, up from 8.9% in April. Those saying conditions are “bad” fell to 39.3% from 40.0%.

The percentage of consumers expecting a pickup in business conditions in the next half year grew to 23.5% from 19.7%, while 11.5% said they expect conditions to worsen, down from 12.4%.

On the jobs front, those who believe jobs are “plentiful” dipped to 4.6% in May from 4.7% in April, while the number saying jobs are “hard to get” fell to 43.6% from 44.8%. Respondents who see more jobs becoming available in a half year rose to 20.4% from 17.7%. Those expecting fewer jobs to become available dipped to 17.7% from 19.9%, the Conference Board reported.

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