Consumer confidence in the metropolitan area rose in February despite concerns about gasoline prices and the impact of federal sequestration budget cuts.
The Siena College Research Institute Wednesday reported its consumer confidence index for Long Island, New York City and its northern suburbs rose 4.4 points last month to 82.4 from January.
Readings above 76 points indicate the number of people who are optimistic about their financial future surpasses those who are pessimistic.
Area residents continue to worry about gasoline prices. Fifty-one percent said last month that pump prices were either a somewhat or very serious problem. That's three percentage points higher than in January.
Concern about the cost of food fell in February with 66 percent saying food prices were somewhat, or a very serious problem. Seventy percent said this at the beginning of this year.
Retailers follow consumer confidence because it often signals whether consumer are in a spending mood. Consumer expenditures account for 70 percent of economic activity locally and across the country, according to several economists.