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US consumer confidence rebounds in February

US consumer confidence surged sharply higher in February, snapping three straight months of declines, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.

The Conference Board's February consumer confidence index jumped to 69.6 from 58.4 in January, well above the average analyst estimate of a 62.0 reading.

Overall confidence grew in both consumers' outlook on current business and labor market conditions and their expectations for conditions six months in advance were "cautiously optimistic," the research firm said in a statement.

"Consumer confidence rebounded in February as the shock effect caused by the fiscal-cliff uncertainty and payroll tax cuts appears to have abated," said Lynn Franco, director of surveys at the Conference Board.

After months of political gridlock, Democrats and Republicans reached a last-minute deal to avoid most of the January 1 fiscal-cliff measures that eliminated a payroll tax reduction.

The survey cutoff point was February 14.

"Whether improvement continues will likely depend on whether the more recent stress in markets continues and starts to feed back into the economic data," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.

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