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Consumer sentiment index at 4 1/2-year high

WASHINGTON -- A measure of U.S. consumer confidence has risen to its highest in 4 1/2 years.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment released Friday jumped to 79.3 in May from 76.4 in the previous month. The new reading is the best since October, 2007 -- two months before the recession began.

A high proportion of responders say they are hearing about job gains rather than losses. And consumers expect lower levels of inflation in the months and years ahead, the survey found.

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