The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment rose in September, with a preliminary reading of 79.2, up from 74.3 in August.
The rise surprised economists who had predicted the index to dip to a reading of 74, Bloomberg noted. However, the index’s reading of current conditions, slipped form 88.7 in August, to 88.3 this month.
Looking ahead, the index of consumer expectations for the next six months rose to 73.4, up sharply from 65.1 last month, and the best showing since May.
In the five years before the last recession, the index has showed an average monthly reading of 89. While in the recession, which ended in June 2009, it had an average monthly reading of 64.2.
Economists noted that consumer sentiment, while low by normal standards, has not fallen markedly, despite high unemployment and the sluggish economy.
Last month, retail sales rose more than economists expected, as consumers purchased more automobiles and spent more on gasoline, according to the Commerce Department.