After hitting a record low in February, the Conference Board's consumer confidence index showed a modest rebound in the month of March, although the increase was smaller than economists had been expecting.

While the Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index edged up to 26.0 in March from 25.3 in February, economists had been expecting a somewhat more significant increase by the index to a reading of 28.0.

Lynn Franco, Director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center said, Apprehension about the outlook for the economy, the labor market and earnings continues to weigh heavily on consumers' attitudes.

The report showed that the present situation index fell to 21.5 in March from 22.3 in February, as those claiming conditions are bad rose to 51.1 percent from 50.5 percent and those claiming conditions are good edged down to 6.8 percent from 7.0 percent.

The Present Situation Index suggests that the overall state of the economy remains weak and that more job losses are on the horizon, Franco said.

Consumers were also somewhat more pessimistic in their appraisal of the labor market, with those saying jobs are hard to get rising to 48.7 percent from 46.9 percent, while those claiming jobs are plentiful was unchanged at 4.6 percent.

At the same time, the Conference Board said that the expectations index rose to 28.9 in March from 27.3 in February.

The modest increase by the expectations index came as consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose to 9.1 percent from 8.5 percent and those expecting conditions to worsen slipped to 39.1 percent from 40.7 percent.

Additionally, those expecting more jobs in the months ahead edged up to 7.1 percent from 6.8 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs fell to 42.6 percent from 47.0 percent.

However, Franco said, Looking ahead, consumers remain extremely pessimistic about the short-term future and do not foresee a turnaround in economic conditions over the coming six months.

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