According to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index, we're all feeling a bit more optimistic about the economy these days. In fact, the group's December survey shows consumer sentiment is up for the fifth month in a row.

“More frequent mentions of rising employment lessened income uncertainty and prompted more favorable buying attitudes as well,” said survey director Richard Curtin. He added, "The data suggest a stronger consumer [2012] spending outlook."

While December retail sales weren't as high as expected, consumer borrowing surged by $20.4 billion in November -- the biggest rise in a decade. In addition, job creation last month exceeded forecasts, suggesting that economic growth is picking up. What's more, the continued fall in the unemployment rate will likely boost consumer sentiment even further.

Overall, consumers’ assessment of the economy rose to the highest level since February of 2011, and the outlook for future economic improvement was more positive as well.

David Semmens, US economist at Standard Chartered, found the new numbers encouraging, saying, “This release shows a very strong turn around in sentiment ... since the collapse that happened between May and August."

[The Financial Times]