Consumer sentiment in the U.S. rose more than expected during December, and an index of current conditions touched its highest level since January 2008, the Thomson Reuters/ University of Michigan Survey said.

The survey's preliminary reading for December on the overall index on consumer sentiment was 74.2, up from 71.6 in November.

Economists polled by Reuters were expecting a reading of 72.5 for the month.

The survey is a measure of Americans' confidence about their financial situation and is a good gauge of current conditions.

The survey's gauge for current conditions rose to 85.7 from 82.1 in November, above the forecast of 83.1.

The report bodes well for consumer confidence, as well as consumer expenditure, which has been shaky for the past few months due to the high rate of unemployment and slow job creation.

Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of total GDP growth, which was 2.5 percent in the third quarter.