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The Conference Board's

consumer confidence index rose for the second straight month in January and came in ahead of analysts' expectations.

The index now stands at 97.3. The reading was revised up to 94.6 in December. The expectations index rose from 92.4 to 96.9, while the present situation index remained unchanged at 97.8.

Analysts had expected a reading of 96 in the confidence index, according to a

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survey. The consumer confidence index is based on a survey of 5,000 U.S. households.

"While the economy has not turned around yet, the worst may well be over," Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center, said in a statement on the group's Web site. "The upturn in confidence is being driven by growing confidence about the business outlook and job prospects. Consumer expectations for the future are now higher than they have been in more than a year."