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Consumer Confidence, Spending Rise

WASHINGTON - The Conference Board today reported that its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 109.8 in May, up from a revised 108.5 in April, The Associated Press reports.

Another report released by the Commerce Department showed that consumers increased their spending by 0.5 percent in April.

Economists commenting on the news said they were encouraged that consumers will continue to spend at a modest increase in the months ahead.

"It looks like consumers will keep the recovery on track," Richard Yamarone, economist with Argus Research Corp., told the AP. "Consumers didn't toss in the towel during the recession, and we don't see any reason for them to do so now."

Many economists believe the economy, which grew at a brisk 5.6 percent pace in the first quarter, slowed to a rate of around 3 percent to 3.5 in the current quarter, a still respectable pace. Part of that expected slowdown may come from less enthusiastic shoppers, analysts say.

Retailers have continued to discount merchandise and offer other incentives and promotions to increase sales.

In April, consumer spending on big-ticket durable goods, such as cars and appliances, rose 1.4 percent. In March, consumers cut back spending on these items by 0.2 percent.

Spending on nondurable goods, such as clothes and food, went up 0.8 percent in April, up from a 0.2 percent rise. Spending on services rose 0.2 percent in April, down from a 0.5 percent advance the month before.
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