U.S. consumer confidence surged to a six-year high in May thanks to a rising stock market and cheaper gas prices, the monthly Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment revealed on Friday. The preliminary reading of the consumer sentiment rose to 83.7 in May from 76.4 in the previous month. This is the highest level since July 2007 and far above economists\' expectation of 77.9. The index gauging consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, climbed to 74.8 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, rose to 97.5 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. Some economists were taken aback by the consumer\'s resilience to tax hikes and sequestration. Lower prices at the pump, a rally in the stock market and a recovery in home sales help lift American\'s outlook on the economy. Survey results of consumer gauge are released twice each month.