The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment registered 89.4 in a mid-month reading, the best showing since July 2007. Economists had forecast the measure would hit 87.5, with some predicting as high as 89.
The survey's current conditions indicator climbed to 103.0, up from 98.3, the University of Michigan reported. The expectations gauge also bumped up, increasing to 80.6. Both scores were the highest since 2007.
Chris Christopher, director of U.S. consumer economics at IHS Global Insight, said lower gas prices are the primary cause for Americans' cheery mood, though employment growth helped.
"Falling pump prices and elevated levels of consumer mood are likely to make fourth quarter real consumer spending growth relatively robust," Christopher said in a note. "So, the fourth quarter is looking significantly more cheerful for consumers and retailers alike."