Washington - US consumer confidence improved marginally in April, after a sharp fall the month before, according to closely watched survey published on Tuesday.
The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose from 63.8% to 65.4% this month, as consumers still felt the pinch from higher prices.
"Consumer confidence, which had declined sharply in March, posted a modest gain in April. Consumers' short-term outlook improved slightly," said the board's Lynn Franco.
The index had fallen from 70.4% in February as Americans paid more for gasoline at the pump.
But, Franco said, "inflation expectations, which had spiked, retreated somewhat in April."
The report was better than most economists had expected.
"Overall, we judge this to be a mildly encouraging surprise that suggests the pace of economic activity will pick up a bit after the first quarter lull," said David Resler of Nomura.
Resler said that a brighter mood about jobs and overall business conditions was especially encouraging.
"Consumers also seem to be confident enough to commit to new purchases of big ticket items such as cars and housing."
That is good news for the multitude of US firms that depend on consumer spending to sell their products.