U.S. consumer confidence improved in May to the highest level since February 2008. The Conference Board’s index rose to 76.2, exceeding the median forecast of 71.2, from a revised 69 in April. The gauge of consumer present conditions advanced to 66.7 in May, the highest since May 2008, from 61 a month earlier. The measure of expectations for the next six months jumped to 82.4, the highest since October, from 74.3.
Sentiment rose on the back of rising equity markets, lower gasoline prices and the recovery in real estate values. According to the latest study by S&P/CaseShiller, based on a three-month average, home prices in the 20 biggest U.S. cities rose an annual 10.9% in March, the most since April 2006 as the recovery in residential real estate gained momentum on cheaper borrowing costs and gains in buyers confidence. All 20 cities showed an increase in year-over-year prices, led by a 22.5% gain in Phoenix and 22.2% in San Francisco. On a monthly basis, home prices increased 1.1% in March, compared with a 1.3% gain in February. Los Angeles, Seattle, Charlotte, Portland and Tampa, Florida, showed their biggest month-to-month gains in more than seven years, S&P and CaseShiller said. “Other housing market data reported in recent weeks confirm these strong trends,” David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P’s index committee said.