Consumer sentiment rose to 74.5 in December in the final reading of the University of Michigan index. That compares with a preliminary December reading of 74.2 reading and a final reading of 71.6 in November, according to market sources.

Economists predicted a 74.8 level for the final December reading.The expectations component of the survey was 67.5 and current conditions reading was 85.3.

“The level of consumer sentiment still remains closer to that normally associated with a recession, rather than a recovery,” Swonk said, noting that the most interesting part of the survey dealt with consumer perceptions about job prospects, which improved at the fastest pace since 1983.

“Could this mean that hiring is finally picking up?” she said. “It does appear that the trend is finally moving in the right ­direction.”

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