NEW YORK, JUNE 11 -- Consumer attitudes about the economy took a positive turn last month, according to a nationwide poll released by a business research group today.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index, using 1986 as a base 100, stood at 103.1 in May, up nearly 6 points from April's 97.4. The poll of 5,000 households around the country also showed buying plans increasing for all major items it cited.

National Family Opinion Inc. of Toledo, which conducts the monthly survey for the Conference Board, said May's figures were preliminary, while those for April were final.

In May, it found that 25.5 percent of the households queried believed business conditions were "good," compared with 23.3 percent way in April.

Those expecting jobs to be more "plentiful" also rose, to 22.1 percent, up from 20.5 percent.

Looking ahead to the next six months, 20.6 percent of May's respondents said they expect business conditions to improve, compared with April's 18.8 percent. Those expecting more plentiful jobs also increased -- to 17.5 percent from 16.5 percent in April.

"Unemployment is currently lower than it has been for a decade," said Fabian Linden, director of the organization's Consumer Research Center. "The availability of jobs appears to have given consumers a greater sense of well-being."

More consumers in May also expressed intentions of making major purchases, the Conference Board said.

Almost 9 percent of the respondents said they expected to buy a car, up from 7.2 percent -- but still down from last year's overall 9.6 percent. Those intending to buy homes also increased, to 4.3 percent from 3.2 percent.