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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
US consumer confidence hits high
Petrol pump in Oregon
Rising petrol prices could hit consumer confidence
US consumer confidence hit a four-year peak in April, beating analysts' forecasts,the Conference Board reports.

The consumer confidence index, which measure consumers feelings about economic conditions, rose from 133.3 in March to 136.2 in April.

But consumer confidence could be dented if fuel costs keep rising.

"While prices at the pump have yet to impact consumer confidence, further increases could dampen consumers mood," the organisation warned.

As the cost of oil has surged, consumers have been hit by petrol prices that have increased to just under $3 a gallon (or 44 pence a litre).

With petrol "likely to break through the psychologically important $3 a gallon barrier any day now, we expect confidence to fall back next month," said Paul Ashworth, Senoir International Economist with Capital Economics.

'Cooling' house market

The research showed that feelings about the labour market were varied.

Individuals expecting further job openings in the future increased to 15.7% from 13.7% a month earlier. Yet, the number of individuals expecting fewer jobs was still 16.4%.

Meanwhile, data regarding the housing market revealed that prices for existing homes had risen in March by 0.3%.

However, analysts predicted that a slow down in the housing market could be on the horizon.

"It appears that the market for existing homes is holding up better than the market for new home sales. We are still concerned about the housing market cooling off," said Gary Thayer, chief economist at AG Edwards.

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