By Martin Crutsinger
AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans’ confidence in the economy jumped in May to a five-year high, lifted by a better outlook for hiring and business conditions. The increase suggests consumers may keep boosting economic growth this year.
The Conference Board, a New York-based private research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose in May to 76.2. That’s up from a reading of 69.0 in April and the highest since February 2008.
The jump in confidence followed a separate report showing the housing recovery is strengthening.
Home prices jumped 10.9 percent in March compared with a year ago, the most since April 2006, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case Shiller 20-city index. All 20 cities showed year-over-year gains.
The reports contributed to a strong opening on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average surged more than 200 points in the first hour of trading. Broader indexes also jumped.
Consumers’ confidence in the economy is watched closely because their spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.