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Consumer Confidential: More confidence, more Fords, more Peanuts

April 27, 2010 |  9:59 am

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

--Are we feeling better about the economy? Yes, we are. Consumer confidence has climbed to the highest level since September 2008, according to our friends at the Conference Board. The group's confidence index rose to 57.9 this month from a revised 52.3 in March. That means consumers are more comfortable with the notion of an economic recovery, which means they'll likely do more shopping, which is good for businesses, which -- hopefully -- means jobs.

--Maybe all that confidence has you thinking you need a new car. Ford Motor Co. reports that it earned $2.1 billion in the first quarter, compared with a hefty loss of $665 million a year ago. This is great news for Ford and for the U.S. auto industry in general. But I suspect that troubles involving a certain Japanese automaker (that would be you, Toyota) contributed more than a bit to Ford's resurgence. We'll have to see if Ford can maintain the sales momentum once Toyota rebounds.

--Good grief! The licensing rights to Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts crew have been sold to the owner of Joe Boxer for $175 million. Iconix Brand Group laid out the heavy green not just for Peanuts but for Dilbert and Fancy Nancy, which are part of the United Media Licensing family of characters. They generate about $2 billion in annual merchandising sales. Most of that take is attributable to Peanuts, which has more than 1,200 licensing arrangements. Now if Lucy would just let Charlie Brown kick that football ...

-- David Lazarus