Consumer sentiment held steady the last two weeks at a very high level of 93.6, little changed from 93.8 at mid-month and far above November's final reading of 88.8.

The current conditions component, which offers an indication on month-to-month change in consumer activity, slipped 9 tenths from the mid-month reading to a still very strong 104.8, which is 2.1 points above final November. This reading is a very positive indication for holiday spending.

The expectations component, which offers an indication on confidence in the outlook for jobs and income, is up 3 tenths from mid-month and up a very strong 6.5 points from final November. Inflation expectations are very soft, reflecting the downdraft underway in oil prices with both the 1-year and 5-year outlooks at 2.8%.

Today's report will be especially pleasant reading for the nation's retailers.

The Reuter's/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index surged to 93.8 for the mid-month December reading versus an already strong 88.8 in final November and 89.4 in mid-month November.

This was the strongest reading since January 2007. The current conditions component was up three points from final November to 105.7 in a gain that signals month-to-month strength in consumer activity in December.

 The expectations component, though lagging at 86.1, was up a very sharp 6.2 points to signal rising confidence in the outlook for income and jobs.