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US consumer confidence moved up in May

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 27, 2014 at 10:31 am •  Published: May 27, 2014

Consumer sentiment is a closely watched figure, as consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the nation's economic activity.

A recent burst of hiring likely has boosted confidence.

Employers added 288,000 jobs in April, the most in 2 ½ years. The national unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent in April from 6.7 percent.

The job gains should provide much-needed support for the economy. More Americans earning paychecks means more spending to help boost growth.

The economy expanded at a scant 0.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter. Data released since then indicate that the economy probably contracted by as much as 0.8 percent from January through March. That is a sharp reversal from an annual pace of 3.2 percent in the second half of last year.

Economists have blamed cold weather and snowstorms for most of the slowdown. The harsh winter weather kept shoppers away from the malls and car dealer lots, while also shutting down some factories and disrupting shipping.

Growth is expected to bounce back in the current April-June quarter, perhaps to an annual pace as high as 3.5 percent. Home construction, car sales and retail sales have all recovered as the weather has improved.