U.S. consumers are emerging from this season’s harsh winter feeling more optimistic about the economy’s future, according to a report released Tuesday (March 25).

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Conference Board, a private research group, said its index of consumer confidence rose to 82.3 from an upwardly revised 78.3 in February, first reported as 78.1. The March index tops the 78.6 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

“Consumer confidence improved in March, as expectations for the short-term outlook bounced back from February’s decline,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the board. “Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue improving and believe it may even pick up a little steam in the months ahead.”

The two subcomponents of the index shifted in opposite directions.

The board’s present situation index, a gauge of consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions, edged down to 80.4 from a revised 81, first reported at 81.7. The 81.7 figure had been the highest in almost six years.

Consumer expectations for economic activity over the next six months, however, recovered sharply to 83.5 from 76.5, originally reported at 75.7.

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