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Consumer sentiment up in December on improved economic outlook

A woman fills out paperwork at a job training and resource fair at Coney Island in New York December 11, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
A woman fills out paperwork at a job training and resource fair at Coney Island in New York December 11, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer sentiment rose to its strongest in five months in December as Americans' outlook on the economy and job prospects improved, a survey released on Monday showed.

The final reading on the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's overall index of consumer sentiment jumped to 82.5 for December, up from the 75.1 posted in November but unchanged from the preliminary reading released earlier this month.

This was the highest reading for the index since July, though it was slightly under expectations for a reading of 83.

"Most of the gain was due to more favorable buying plans due to renewed discounting as well as more favorable short-term prospects for the economy," survey director Richard Curtin wrote in a statement.

"Personal finances, the most critical factor that shapes consumer spending, did improve in late December, although largely due to rising incomes and wealth among those in the top third."

The survey's barometer of current economic conditions jumped to 98.6 in December, up from both the preliminary read of 97.9 as well as the November reading of 88. Analysts were looking for a reading of 98.1.

The survey's gauge of consumer expectations rose from 66.8 in November to 72.1, though this was below the 75.0 forecast as well as the initial read of 72.7.

The current conditions index was at its highest since July, while the consumer expectations index was at its highest since August.

The one-year inflation expectation was 3 percent, above the 2.9 percent November figure, while the survey's five-to-10-year inflation outlook dipped to 2.7 percent from 2.9 percent last month.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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