A key index of U.S. consumer sentiment improved in early July, market sources said on Friday, and analysts attributed this to recent tax cuts and a Federal Reserve rate cut in late June.

The University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment index, a widely followed measure of consumers' mood, rose to 90.3 in July from a final reading of 89.7 in June, market sources said, higher than economists' forecasts for a reading of 90.

The survey's preliminary current conditions index, which tracks consumers' views about their present financial situation, jumped to 102.8 in July from 94.7 in June, market sources said. However, a slip in the expectations index -- which measures attitudes about the 12 months ahead -- to 82.7 in July from 86.4 in June, may have been due to the rise in the June unemployment rate to 6.4 percent.