American consumer confidence rose for the second successive month in May, according to the closely watched index of the Conference Board.

The New York research group’s barometer of consumer sentiment rose from 81 last month to 83.8 as the recovery from March’s nine-year low continues [WAMN: 27-Mar-03].

However, the headline rise masks differing fortunes between the components measuring assessment of the present situation and expectations for the future. The former slumped from 75.2 to 67.9; the latter surged from 84.8 to 94.4.

“Labor market conditions continue to be of concern, but consumers anticipate a turnaround in the coming months,” explained the Board’s Lynn Franco. “While the overall index improved moderately, the decline in the present situation index suggests consumers will continue spending at current levels.”

Separate housing market figures also provide positive signs for the US economy. The National Association of Realtors recorded a 5.6% rise in sales of pre-existing homes from March to April, while the Commerce Department revealed that sales of new homes climbed 1.7% over the same period.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff