NEW YORK, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. consumer confidence made strong gains in February after three months of declines, the Conference Board said Tuesday.
Economists had expected the confidence index to climb to 61. But the index beat expectations, rising from 58.4 in January to 69.6, the Conference Board said.
The Conference Board uses 1985 as a base year, assigning the average confidence of 1985 a value of 100, giving the index a reference point.
In February, 18.1 percent of respondents to a survey that involves more than 5,000 households indicated they believed business conditions were "good," up from 16.1 percent in January.
Responses indicating a belief that business conditions were "bad" in February fell from 28.4 percent to 27.8 percent.
The percentage of respondents indicating jobs were "plentiful," rose from 8.5 percent to 10.5 percent, while those indicating jobs were "hard to get" rose slightly from 36.6 percent to 37 percent, the Conference Board said.
"Consumer confidence rebounded in February as the shock effect caused by the fiscal cliff uncertainty and payroll tax cuts appears to have abated," said Lynn Franco, director of the board's Consumer Research Center.