Consumer Sentiment Holds Steady

Consumer sentiment continues to increase, with a reading slightly higher than estimates.
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) -- Consumer sentiment continued on its upswing in May, according the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.

The index hit 73.6 in late in the month from 72.2 in April. This was slightly higher than economists' final estimates of a reading of 73.4. The preliminary May reading came in at 73.3.

Current economic conditions came in at a 81.0 at the end of May, remaining steady from the month prior. The barometer of consumer expectations rose to 68.8 compared with 66.5 in April.

Earlier in the week, a report from the Conference Board showed

confidence hitting a 2-year high in May

. The index reached 63.3 during the month from 57.7 in April. This is the highest level since March 2008. Economists expected a reading of 59.

Consumers' outlook for the next six months surged to 85.3 from 77.4, its highest reading since August 2007.

Still, consumer spending remained flat in April, its lowest gain in seven months, according to the Commerce Department. Economists expects a slight 0.3% uptick.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York

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