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Consumer confidence rebounds in March

There’s probably some March Madness/basketball/rebound pun I could cook up here … but I’ll leave that for the comments section.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index’s new numbers were released today and we’re now at 52.5, up from 46.4 in February. The Present Situation Index also increased to 26.0 from 21.7.

Lastly, the Expectations Index improved to 70.2 from 62.9 last month.

Here’s another little related tidbit: Job losses held steady in February and the national unemployment rate has stayed at 9.7 percent. Yeah, yeah, it’s not going down. But it didn’t go up, either.

So now that we’re not hemorrhaging jobs and there’s a slightly more positive outlook on the future, will people start spending again? My prediction (based on what I hear in my reporting) is not really. Consumers are more likely to pay down their debt first than spend willy nilly again like they didn’t have a care in the world.

Careful spending and selective purchases for most of us regular folks (for the uber-rich folks’ spending habits, see McCourt, Jamie) will be the trend of the future. That’s what analysts tell me and I believe it.

Anyone care to debate?