The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rose 9.3 points in December to 64.5 (1985 = 100), following a 14.3-point rise in November, The Conference Board said Tuesday.

All told, the index has risen by nearly 24 points since October—the biggest rise since March 1991, when the U.S. won the first Gulf War. Over the summer and into the fall, from July to October, the index continued to spiral downward as news of the U.S. debt downgrade, the Eurozone fiscal crisis, rising gas prices, continued unemployment and surging market volatility ate away at public opinion. These worries pushed consumer confidence to lower levels than in the recessions of 2001 and 1990.

In addition, the Present Situation Index increased to 46.7 in December, from 38.3 the previous month, and the Expectations Index rose to 76.4 from 66.4.

“After two months of considerable gains, the index is now back to levels seen last spring,” said Lynn Franco, director of the research center at The Conference Board. “Consumers are more optimistic that business conditions, employment prospects and their financial situations will continue to get better.”

Lee Barney writes for Money Management Executive.