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BERLIN (Reuters) - Euro zone sentiment improved for a fifth consecutive month in January, with investors' expectations rising to their highest level in almost two years after a successful Greek bond buyback and a dip in Spanish jobless figures.
Research group Sentix said its monthly index tracking investor sentiment in the 17-nation currency bloc climbed to -7.0 in January, up from -16.8 in December, coming in well above a Reuters consensus forecast for an increase to -15.0.
"The euro zone index was stronger than expected... and that was partly due to many rather minor positive reports from around the region," Sentix said in a statement on Monday.
A buyback of Greek debt hailed as a success, an upgrade of the recession-mired country by ratings agency Standard and Poor's and an unexpected dip in Spanish unemployment in December fed investor optimism, Sentix said.
A smaller-than-expected 2012 budget deficit for Ireland and Germany's robust labour market also contributed to the more positive mood, Sentix said.
A sub-index of expectations rose to 12.0 in January from -1.5 in December, its highest level since February 2011. A sub-index tracking current conditions rose to -24.3 in January from -31.0 in December.
An index for investor sentiment in the United States rose by 2.9 points to 10.0.
"Investors are relieved that the country avoided falling over the fiscal cliff but they are disappointed about how the American tax compromise came about and about the compromise itself," Sentix said.
An index tracking global investor sentiment rose by 5.6 points on the month to 14.1 in January, its highest level since August 2011.
"Happy New Year - the recovery is underway," Sentix said.
Writing by Michelle Martin in London, editing by Gareth Jones