The US consumers' confidence registered a surge in January 2011 to an 8 month new high, after a retreat in December 2010, providing new evidence of an ongoing economic recovery.

The Consumer Confidence Index increased in January 2011 to 60.6 from a revised 53.3 in December 2010, the Conference Board announced Tuesday in a report.

The monthly survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 US households. It takes a reading of 90 to indicate a healthy economy.

Economists watch this report closely, as consumer spending accounts for about 70% of US economic activity and is critical to a strong economic rebound.

Consumers have begun the year in better spirits. As a result, the index is now near levels not seen since last spring, said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

Consumers rated business and labor market conditions more favorably and expressed greater confidence that the economy will continue to expand and generate more jobs in the months ahead. Income expectations are also more positive. Although pessimists still outnumber optimists, the gap has narrowed, Franco added. -Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr.