Consumer confidence rebounded in April, and buyers expressed optimism about the future of the U.S. economy, according to a new survey by the Conference Board.

The Consumer Confidence Index (1985 equals 100) advanced to 114.6 in April from 112.7 in March.The index is compiled on a monthly basis with responses from more than 5,000 U.S. households and is conducted for the private business research organization by National Family Opinion Inc.

"Consumer optimism over the last three months has been running only fractionally below pre-crash levels, when confidence was at a 15-year high," said Fabian Linden, executive director at the Board's consumer research center. The stock market collapse occurred Oct. 19.

U.S. consumers surveyed were less certain about current economic conditions, however, and 21 percent of respondents labeled them as "bad," the study said.

Linden said "the combination of declining unemployment and still restrained inflation" would contribute to an increased sense of security for the future.

The survey revealed that 18 percent of respondents expected more jobs to be available during the coming months. Only 12 percent thought there would be fewer jobs created in the near future.

Approximately 9 percent of consumers planned to buy automobiles in April, compared with 7 percent a year ago. About 9.4 percent of survey respondents were in the market for a new or used car in March.

The survey said interest rate swings contributed to a decline in plans to buy houses in April.

About half of those surveyed in April were planning a vacation, up slightly from 48 percent last year.