The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, which had been on the decline for the past four months, improved sharply in April. The Index now stands at 81 (1985=100), up from 61.4 in March.

The Expectations Index rose to 84.8 from 61.4. The Present Situation Index improved to 75.3 from 61.4.

The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for the Conference Board by NFO WorldGroup.

The employment outlook was also more optimistic. Consumers anticipating more jobs to become available increased to 16.7 percent from 10.8 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs fell to 20.9 percent from 26.5 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes rose to 17.1 percent, from 15.8 percent.