U.S. consumer confidence improved in May, boosted by the perception that the worst was over in terms of job losses and helped by optimism associated with earlier gains in the stock market, a report released on Tuesday showed.

Investor's Business Daily and TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence said their IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index rose to 48.7 in May from 48.4 in April. Last month, the index had rebounded after previously hitting its lowest level in a year.

Readings above 50 indicate optimism, while those below 50 point to pessimism.

The index is just above its 12-month average of 48.5 and 4.3 points above its reading of 44.4 in December 2007 when the U.S. economy entered recession.

Despite market volatility, many investors and average Americans view the gain of 573,000 new nonfarm jobs since the start of the year as a sign of a bottom in the labor market, said Terry Jones, associate editor of Investor's Business Daily.

However, there was a drop in two of the main index's three components -- the Six-Month Economic Outlook and the Personal Financial Outlook.

By contrast, confidence rose in Federal Economic Policies, or views on how government economic policies are working.

IBD/TIPP conducted the national poll of 924 adults from April 30 to May 6. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

(Reporting by John Parry; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)