Consumer Sentiment Rises in April

US consumers felt more confident about the economy last month than at any time since the September failure of Lehman Brothers that pushed global banking to the brink of collapse, a survey showed on Friday.

Meanwhile, the factory sector shrank further last month but at a slower pace, suggesting some stabilization in the battered sector and the broader economy, according to an industry report.

The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity rose to 40.1 in April from 36.3 in March. The median forecast among economists polled by Reuters was 38.0. A reading below 50 indicates contraction in the manufacturing sector. ISM said the index has been below this threshold for 15 straight months.

The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said its final index of confidence climbed to 65.1 in April from 57.3 in March. That was the highest since September 2008 and the biggest one-month increase since October 2006.

The April reading also marked the first yearly increase since July 2007. Economists polled by Reuters expected a slightly lower final reading of 61.9 for April.



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