WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- U.S. consumer confidence rose in February to the highest level in three months, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment revealed on Friday.
The preliminary reading of the consumer sentiment, which records the figure for the first half of a month, edged up to 76.3 in February from 73.8 in the previous month. It's the highest level since November 2012, boosted by rising stock prices, increased property values and a reviving jobs market.
The index gauging consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, also climbed to 68.7 in February from 66.6 in January.
The index of current conditions, reflecting Americans' perceptions of their financial situation and whether they consider it a good time to buy big-ticket items like cars, rose a solid 3 points to 88 from a month ago.
The index averaged 64.2 during the last recession from December 2007 to June 2009, and 89 in the five years leading up to the recession.
After plunging in December 2012 for the fears of "fiscal cliff", U.S. consumer sentiment began to bounce back in January and February, suggesting that consumer spending will improve in the coming months and provide a boost to the U.S. economic recovery.
Although higher payroll taxes started to kick in on January 1, consumers didn't largely scale back their spending last month. U. S. retail and food services sales rose 0.1 percent in January after growing 0.5 percent in December 2012, the U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday.