The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to -46.9 in the week ended March 27, its first increase in five weeks. The index is based on telephone interviews with 1,000 consumers aged 18 and over.

However, the reading remains in negative territory associated with recessions, not growth, potentially reflecting consumer concerns over rising gas and grocery prices. And the index is not far from a record low of -54 in November 2008. The peak of 38 was in January 2000. The Bloomberg Comfort Index dates back to December 1985.

Among high earners making more than $100,000 a year, sentiment soured, possibly due to continued drops in home values and volatility in the stock market.

As the job market continues to improve, it is possible that the readings will improve, said Gary Langer, president of Langer Research Associates, which compiles the index for Bloomberg.