Consumer confidence on the up

Consumers are more optimistic about the future than at any stage in the past two years.

In its latest survey of consumer sentiment, the Nationwide found that people are adopting a brighter outlook.

The building society's Consumer Confidence Index rose to 80 in February, its highest mark since January 2008.

Compared with the same period a year ago, the index was twice as high.

The improvement was driven by news that the economy finally emerged from the recession in the final quarter of 2009, growing by 0.3 per cent.

The report suggested that consumers were also feeling more certain that the economy will develop in a positive direction throughout 2010.

Martin Gahbauer, the Nationwide's chief economist, said: "Following the small dip at the end of 2009, consumers have started this year in a more optimistic fashion with February's figures showing a surge in confidence in both the present and the future situation.

"A strong influencing factor behind this uplift is likely to be the news that the UK has come out of its longest recession on record following six consecutive quarters of contraction beginning in 2008."