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In another important milestone for America's "Plow Horse Economy," the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index increased in May for the ninth straight month. That sets a new record for the most consecutive monthly increases in the history of the index going back to 1978. It was also the most upbeat American consumers have been in more than fours years, since October 2007 before the recession started. The May increase brings consumer confidence back above pre-recession levels for the first time since the recession started in December 2007.

Here are links to reports from the WSJ and Bloomberg, which reports that "A record number of households said they'd heard better news on the jobs outlook, which combined with cheaper gasoline and an improving housing market may help sustain consumer spending and shield the economy from Europe's debt crisis."

Q: Don't the oil speculators get some of the credit for driving down gas prices at the pump over the last two months and helping to boost consumer confidence in May?

Source: May Consumer Sentiment Highest In More Than 4 Years