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US consumer sentiment at 98.2 in Dec vs 98.0 reading expected

A measure of consumers' attitudes rose to its highest level since January 2004.

The Index of Consumer Sentiment hit 98.2 in December, the University of Michigan reported on Friday. The figure is up from 93.8 in November's final reading.

Economists expected the consumer sentiment index to hit 98 in December's final reading, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

The surge in confidence following President-elect Donald Trump's surprise election aided in the numbers, the report said.

"Compared with the rapid gains made in late November and early December, the Sentiment Index was barely higher than at mid month and barely higher than the January 2015 peak — in both cases, just two-tenths of a point — but that small difference was enough to establish a twelve year peak," said Richard Curtin, the Surveys of Consumers chief economist, in a press release.

Curtin said 18 percent of consumers mentioned the expected favorable impact of Trump's policies on the economy. That's twice as high as the prior peak of 9 percent in 1981 when Ronald Reagan took office, he added.

The monthly survey of 500 consumers measures attitudes toward topics like personal finances, inflation, unemployment, government policies, and interest rates.