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US consumer confidence hits highest level since 2000

Consumer confidence in the U.S. rose to its highest level in more than 17 years as consumers brushed off the recent stock market turmoil and remained optimistic that strong economic growth will continue, the Conference Board reported.

The consumer confidence index increased to 130.8 in February from a revised reading of 124.3 in January. The present situation index climbed to 162.4 from 154.7, and the expectations index improved to 109.7 from 104.0.

Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said the consumer confidence reading this month was the highest level since November 2000. Tthe labor market mainly drove the more favorable assessment of present economic conditions, he said.

"Despite the recent stock market volatility, consumers expressed greater optimism about short-term prospects for business and labor market conditions, as well as their financial prospects," Franco said.

The percentages of consumers who said business conditions were "good" as well as those expecting conditions to improve over the next six months both increased in February.

Fewer consumers said business conditions were "bad" and were expecting business conditions to worsen.

On the labor market front, the proportion of consumers claiming jobs were "plentiful" also rose, while the percentage of consumers saying jobs were "hard to get" decreased.

More consumers were also anticipating more jobs in the months ahead and an improvement in their short-term income prospects, according to the Conference Board.