U.S. consumer confidence climbed to a nearly six-year high in May thanks to the rising stock market and property values, the monthly Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment showed on Friday. The final reading of the consumer sentiment rose to 84.5 in May from 76.4 in the previous month, said a survey report. This is the highest level since July 2007. The new figure is also better than the preliminary reading of 83.7 in the first half of March. The index gauging consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, rose to 75.8 in May from 67.8 in April. The index of current conditions, reflecting Americans\' perceptions of their financial situation and whether they consider it a good time to buy big-ticket items like cars, surged to 98 in May from 89.9 a month ago. The index averaged 64.2 during the last recession from December 2007 to June 2009, and 89 in the five years leading up to the recession. The increase of personal wealth with a rally in the stock market and higher home prices helped lift Americans\' sentiment and bolster consumer spending from a decline in April. According to the Commerce Department\'s latest data, U.S. personal consumption expenditures dropped 0.2 percent in April, the first decrease since last May. The survey also found that Americans expect an inflation rate of 3.1 percent over the next 12 months, the same as in April. Survey results of the consumer gauge are released twice each month.