Americans were an upbeat group in March, sending The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index to 107.2, the highest level since May 2002 when the reading was 110.3.

The Index rebounded in March after shooting up 4.5 points, following last month’s decline. Analysts and some economists were expecting the Index to dip to 102 from February’s revised 102.7.

“The improvement in consumers’ assessment of present-day conditions is yet another sign that the economy gained steam in early 2006. Consumer expectations, while improved, remain subdued and still suggest a cooling in activity in the latter half of this year,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Board’s Consumer Research Center, in a statement.

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