Mic’Kale Smith, who works as a security guard but has had to take time off to care for her son during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, wears a face mask as she shops with her son Da’Mier at the Tiger Market in Oxon Hill, Maryland, May 20, 2020.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Consumer confidence unexpectedly improved in May as the U.S. economy slowly restarted, according to data released Tuesday by the Conference Board. 

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to 86.6 this month from 85.7 in April. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected consumer confidence of 82.3 in May. 

“Following two months of rapid decline, the free-fall in Confidence stopped in May,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, in a statement. “Short-term expectations moderately increased as the gradual re-opening of the economy helped improve consumers’ spirits.”

As of Tuesday, all 50 states had reopened their economies to some extent, including allowing some restaurants, beaches and retail locations to open in various parts of the country.  

“However, consumers remain concerned about their financial prospects,” Franco added. “While the decline in confidence appears to have stopped for the moment, the uneven path to recovery and potential second wave are likely to keep a cloud of uncertainty hanging over consumers’ heads.”

Stocks rallied on Tuesday as traders cheered the U.S. economy reopening. They also increased bets on a potential coronavirus vaccine

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