After Years of Doubts, Americans Turn More Bullish on Economy

In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, file photo, Tracey Anderson, 26, re-stocks X-Box sets on opening day of a new Wal-Mart on Georgia Avenue Northwest in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, file photo, Tracey Anderson, 26, re-stocks X-Box sets on opening day of a new Wal-Mart on Georgia Avenue Northwest in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, file photo, Tracey Anderson, 26, re-stocks X-Box sets on opening day of a new Wal-Mart on Georgia Avenue Northwest in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

(Reuters) – Pessimism and doubt have dominated how Americans see the economy for many years. Now, in a hopeful sign for the economic outlook, confidence is suddenly perking up.

Expectations for a better job market helped power the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment to a near eight-year high in December, according to data released on Friday.

U.S. consumers also saw sharp drops in gasoline prices as a shot in the arm, and the survey added heft to strong November retail sales data that has showed Americans getting into the holiday shopping season with gusto.

“Surging expectations signal very strong consumption over the next few months,” said Ian Shepherdson, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

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