The University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters preliminary consumer confidence index surged to 74.0 for January, the best reading since May 2011.
Economists polled by Bloomberg had forecast the headline number would come in at 71.5, up from 69.9 in December.
Consumer confidence last topped 100 in January of 2004, when it came in at 103.8.
However, the indicator declined precipitously as the U.S. economy headed into recession. The 74.0 reading represents an appreciation of 34% since the depths of 2008.
The University of Michigan index closely follows the stock market, so a strong start to 2012 may have buttressed the figure.
Below is data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve, charting consumer confidence and the S&P 500’s movements.
Photo: St. Louis Federal Reserve