US Consumer Confidence Surges in March

U.S. consumer confidence, home prices, and the trade deficit all improved, according to economic reports published Tuesday.

Consumer confidence hit a 16-year high, as consumers said they were more confident about getting or keeping jobs and the economic outlook in general. The Conference Board said its index jumped more than nine percentage points in March.

Experts track consumer attitudes for clues about the consumer spending that drives most U.S. economic activity.

A separate report by S&P Case-Shiller showed home prices rose sharply over the past 12 months, increasing at the fastest pace since July 2014.  Some buyers may have speeded up home purchases to avoid further expected interest-rate hikes.  Experts say prices are rising in part because demand for homes is outstripping the supply.

In a separate report, the Census Bureau said the trade deficit shrank as imports dropped sharply. The deficit means that U.S. consumers buy more from foreign companies than Americans are selling to customers abroad.

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