The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 129.2 in April, from 124.2 in March.
The index, covering the month through April 18, measures consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions and their expectations for the next six months. Both rose in April.
Economists pay close attention to the index because consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.
Also boding well for the economy, and perhaps justifying the elevated confidence levels, is news that employers continue to add jobs at a quick pace.
U.S. companies in April added the most jobs in 9 months, a sign that hiring remains strong amid solid economic growth.
Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that businesses hired 275,000 people last month, up from just 151,000 in March. That’s a much higher number than economists forecast for Friday’s government jobs report. Current projections call for the Labor Department to report 181,000 new jobs, according to data provider FactSet.
We’ll see Friday how accurate the survey is, but it’s likely that the’ forecast is a bit too pessimistic.
Finally, there’s also good news in this report on pending home sales.
More Americans signed contracts to purchase homes in March compared to the prior month.
The National Association of Realtors says that its pending home sales index climbed 3.8% to 105.8. Home sales have been recovering as mortgage rates have retreated after the average 30-year rate peaked at just below 5% in November. Still, pending home sales are running 1.2% below their pace a year ago.
The pace of home price growth has also slowed after years of being consistently higher than wage gains, reducing the affordability pressures for would-be buyers.
In all, a nice start for the month.