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U.S. consumer confidence up on better hiring outlook

WASHINGTON – Americans' confidence in the economy jumped this month, helped by a better outlook for the job market and expectations for higher pay.

The Conference Board, a New York-based private research group, says its consumer confidence index rose to 68.1 in April. That's up from a reading of 61.9 in March, which was revised slightly higher.

Consumers' confidence in the economy is watched closely because their spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

The April gain in confidence was driven by greater expectations for growth in hiring and income over the next six months.

Despite several brief spikes, the confidence index remains well below the 90 reading that indicates a healthy economy — a level it hasn't reached since the Great Recession began in December 2007.

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