Consumer Confidential: Consumer confidence is up, Obama’s student loan reform, Verizon shares jumps on iPhone report

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Here’s your Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- U.S. consumer confidence rose higher than expected in March as more Americans took to the idea that employment is improving. The Conference Board’s confidence index rose to 52.5, which is higher than the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, from 46.4 in February. Of course, more jobs will be needed to maintain the recent boost in consumer spending, which makes up about 70% of the nation’s economy.

-- President Obama signed a law that not only finalizes his healthcare overhaul also makes the government the issuer of all federal college loans. The action, which stripped banks of the ability to issue federal student loans themselves, was the second of two steps needed for the Democratic-led House and Senate to approve a healthcare overhaul package that should affect nearly every resident in the U.S. The president praised the law at Northern Virginia Community College, where he lauded healthcare reform and new help for college students.

[Updated at 10:40 a.m.: -- It seems Wall Street believes there is some pent up demand for Apple’s hit iPhone on a cellular network not called AT&T. Verizon Communications Inc. saw its largest rise in share price in more than eight months after a report that Apple Inc. is planning to offer an iPhone through Verizon. Both Apple and Verizon have declined to comment on the report, which is posted at BusinessWeek. AT&T Inc. has been the only U.S. carrier for the iPhone since its release in 2007. Analysts are projecting that Apple’s smart phone could spurn as many as 3.5 million new customers to join Verizon in the first six months it offers the iPhone -- that is, if the rumors are true.]


--Nathan Olivarez-Giles