ECONOMY

US consumer confidence hits 16-year high

U.S. consumer confidence climbed to its highest level in more than 16 years, a strong gain for one of President Donald Trump's preferred economic indicators.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 125.6 in March from 116.1 in February, the best reading since December 2000. The index measures both consumers' assessment of current conditions and their expectations for the future. Both improved this month.

Consumers' "renewed optimism suggests the possibility of some upside to the prospects for economic growth in the coming months," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the business group.

Economists closely monitor the mood of consumers because their spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.