NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - U.S. consumer confidence jumped to a five-month high in December, a research firm said Tuesday, with the number coming in much better than Wall Street's expectations.
The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index jumped to 102.3 from an upwardly revised 92.6 reading in November, as consumers' satisfaction with the economy and its prospects improved.
Economists on average had forecast that the index would rise to 93.5 from 90.5 in November, according to Briefing.com.
"The continuing economic expansion, combined with job growth, has consumers ending the year on a high note," Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's consumer research center, said in a statement.
"The most significant contributor to the rebound in confidence has been the overall improvement in current conditions over the past 12 months," Franco said. "And consumers' outlook suggests that the economy will continue to expand in the first half of the new year."
The Conference Board's Present Situation Index increased to 105.9 in December from 96.3 in November. The Expectations Index jumped to 99.9 in December from 90.2 in November.
The employment picture also improved in December, with the number of consumers saying jobs are "plentiful" increasing to 19.4 percent from 17.1 percent. Those who said jobs are "hard to get" declined to 26.4 percent from 28.0 percent.
Consumers' outlook for the next six months was more upbeat. Those expecting business conditions to improve rose to 22.0 percent from 20.3 percent last month. Those anticipating business conditions to worsen fell to 7.7 percent from 11.4 percent.
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The proportion of consumers expecting their incomes to improve in the months ahead edged up to 20.7 percent from 19.2 percent last month.
Consumer confidence is considered a barometer of consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the U.S. economy, and is the broadest measure of U.S. economic output.
-- Reuters contributed to this report