• Gauge of sentiment about economy is weakest since mid-December
  • Confidence among political independents at nine-month low

Consumer confidence fell last week to a five-month low as Americans became more downbeat about the economy, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort data showed Thursday. Sentiment around personal finances and the buying climate were little changed after declining the previous week.

Key Points

  • Consumer Comfort Index eased to 41.7 in the week ended May 8, the lowest since mid-December, from 42
  • Decrease was led by dimming views of the national economy, with that index sinking 2 points to 30.6, also the weakest in five months
  • Americans’ views of their finances were little changed at 55.4 after 55.3, while a measure of the buying climate climbed to 39.1 from 38.2

Big Picture

Moderation in labor-market improvement, impatience with the pace of wage gains and decelerating economic growth are disappointing Americans amid divisive election-year campaigning. The weekly gauge matches the tone of monthly reports on confidence. The Conference Board’s measure has declined since the end of last year and the University of Michigan’s index last month was the weakest since September. One silver lining: this year’s average reading in the comfort gauge is the best of the expansion, signaling consumers will keep spending.

The Details

  • Sentiment was fractured along political lines, with independents the most pessimistic in nine months, and Democrats the most in more than three months
  • Comfort among Americans 55 to 64 years old was lowest in 11 months
  • Other groups that showed the weakest sentiment so far this year included Northeast households, homeowners, married adults, full-time workers and those making more than $100,000 a year
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