The numbers: Consumer sentiment finished 2023 at a five-month high, perhaps a good sign for the economy as a new year gets under way. The final reading of the sentiment survey inched up to 69.7 from 69.4 earlier in the month, the University of Michigan said Thursday. The index had fallen four months in a row before rebounding in the final month of the year. Cheaper gas prices, slowing inflation, a stock-market rally and a strong labor market have given consumers more confidence in the economy. Americans think inflation will average 3.1% in the next year, down sharply from expectations of 4.5% in November.