U.S. consumer sentiment improved to a 3-year high in early January, propelled by falling gasoline prices and a favorable view of personal finances and economic growth, a survey showed on Friday.

The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said its preliminary January reading on consumer sentiment index rose to 98.0 from 91.7 at the end of December.

This was the highest since 103.80 in January 2004 and well above the 92.5 median forecast of analysts polled by Reuters.

The surveys' gauge of current consumer conditions was 112.5 against a final December reading of 108.1, while its measure of consumer expectations was 88.7 versus 81.2.

Consumers, while generally upbeat, remain worried about inflation. The surveys' one-year inflation index edged up to 3.0 percent from 2.9 in late December, and its five-year index stood at 3.0 percent for a third straight month.