Consumer confidence recovered somewhat in April, though the impact of a spike in gasoline prices is still evident, according to data released Tuesday by the Conference Board. The confidence index hit 65.4 in April, compared with an upwardly revised 63.8 in March. That’s still below the 72.0 reading of February, as gasoline prices nationally have approached $4 per gallon. The increase came as consumers’ 12-month inflation expectations declined to 6.3 percent in April from 6.7 percent in March. In addition, consumer views about the present situation improved. “Consumers’ short-term outlook improved slightly, suggesting that the uncertainty expressed last month is easing” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s consumer research center. “Although confidence remains weak, consumers’ assessment of current conditions gained ground for the seventh straight month, a sign that the economic recovery continues” Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected an April reading of 65. The Conference Board’s index helps analysts compare fluctuations in confidence, with a reading of 100 for the base year of 1985. Generally when the economy is growing at a good clip, confidence readings are at 90 and above. A gauge of consumers’ views of the present situation rose to 39.6 in April from 37.5 in March. About 49 percent of respondents said business conditions are “normal,” while 36 percent said they are “bad” and 15 percent said they are “good.” Meanwhile, the vast majority said jobs are either “not so plentiful” or “hard to get.”

Article found in the Dallas Morning News on 4/27/2011 MarketWatch