Americans' remain confident in April

By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO | April 24, 2012 | 10:15 AM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans' confidence in the economy held steady in April from the previous month despite rising gas prices and falling home values, says a private research group.

The Conference Board says its Consumer Confidence Index now stands at 69.2, down slightly from a revised 69.5 in March. Economists were expecting a reading of 70, according to a FactSet poll of analysts. The current level is below February's 71.6, which is the highest level it's been in a year.

Consumer confidence is widely watched because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. The measure is significantly below the 90 reading that indicates a healthy economy. But the current level is above the 40 it hit last October.