NEW YORK ( TheStreet -- Consumer confidence climbed in March, exceeding expectations, as employment trends show signs of improvement.

The Conference Board's confidence index reached 52.5, better than the 51 reading economists predicted. The index was 46.4 in February, revised from an initial reading of 46.

The present situation index rose to 26 in March from 21.7, while the expectations index grew to 70.2 from 62.9 in February.

The rebound sent retailer stocks higher, with the S&P Retail Index up 0.8% to 456.73.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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