Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Consumer confidence surged last week, reversing a month-long decline sparked by rising gasoline prices.

The ABC News/Money magazine Consumer Comfort Index jumped five points to -15 on its scale of +100 to -100. In 18 years of polling, the index has only risen that sharply 15 times with the last being just after the fall of Baghdad.

This week's five-point gain also erased any lingering traces of a nine-point drop in the index, from -11 in mid-May to -20 last week.

Confidence appears to have been caught between two opposing forces over the past few weeks--jobs data showing the labor market is on the mend on one end and soaring gas and food prices on the other. With pump prices easing, down from $2.06 a gallon in mid-May to roughly $1.94 now, jobs may be starting to win that tug of war.

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