Consumer confidence rose 9.3 points in February as the outlook for the nation's economy improved.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose to 70.8 in February, up from 61.5 in January. A year ago, the index stood at 72. The present situation index increased to 45 from 38.8, and the expectations index rose to 88 from 76.7 in January.

"Consumers are considerably less pessimistic about current business and labor market conditions than they were in January," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. And, despite further increases in gas prices, they are more optimistic about the short-term outlook for the economy, job prospects and their financial situation.” 

The assessment of current conditions was more favorable, and those claiming business conditions are good increased slightly to 13.3% from 13.2%, while those claiming business conditions are bad decreased to 31.2% from 38.3%.

Consumers’ appraisal of the labor market was also less pessimistic. Those stating jobs are plentiful increased to 6.6% from 6.2%, while those saying jobs are hard to get decreased to 38.7% from 43.3%. 

Americans also were more optimistic about the short-term outlook than they were in January. The proportion of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months increased to 18.7% from 16.7%, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen decreased to 11.8% from 14.6%.

Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead increased to 18.7% from 16.4%, while those anticipating fewer jobs declined to 16.9% from 19.1%. Consumers also expect their wages to rise with 15.4% expecting an increase, up from 13.8% in the January survey.

Last week, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index rose to 75.3. Final February numbers in that survey registered at the highest level since 77.5 a year ago, the best reading since the financial crisis.