A monthly survey of U.S. households says American consumer confidence made further gains in December, reaching its highest point since Hurricane Katrina struck in August.

The report from the business research group known as the Conference Board says consumer confidence increased by nearly five points this month to 103.6, just shy of its level in August. After Hurricane Katrina blew ashore August 29, the index plummeted to a two-year low.

A spokesman for the survey says the resiliency of the U.S. economy, declines in gasoline prices and job growth have made consumers feel more confident at the end of the year than at the start.

Economists use consumer confidence as a key indicator of consumer spending, which drives about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

The monthly index surveys five thousand households for views on business conditions, the job market and other economic issues.