The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of U.S. consumer sentiment for January rose to 73.8 from 72.9 at the end of the previous month.
Economists projected 71.5 for the gauge after a preliminary January reading of 71.3, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Projections of the 62 economists surveyed ranged from 69 to 74.
The index averaged 64.2 during the last recession and 89 in the five years before the 18-month economic slump that ended in June 2009.
In a separate report today, the Labor Department said payrolls rose 157,000 in January.
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