Consumer Comfort in U.S. Reaches Highest Level Since Mid-Julyby
Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index improves to 43 from 41.9
Increase buoyed by strongest buying climate in three months
Consumers were more upbeat last week than at any time since mid-July as Americans held the most favorable views of the buying climate in three months.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index advanced to 43 in the period ended Sept. 27 from 41.9 the week before. The second straight increase moved the gauge in line with this year’s average of 43.2.
Attitudes about the national economy and personal finances also improved last week, indicating the effects of slumping stock prices on consumer sentiment may be starting to fade. The cheapest gasoline since February and steady job growth are giving Americans reason to be more upbeat and keep spending.
The buying-climate index, which measures whether consumers think it is a good time to purchase goods and services, advanced to 38.4 from 36.6. It was also the biggest one-week gain since the end of June.
Americans’ views of their finances increased to a two-month high of 57.4 last week from 56.4. The gauge of views of the economy rose to 33.2 from 32.6.
A stronger labor market and low energy prices have boosted disposable income and improved consumer prospects. Americans have been more willing to purchase home and automobiles as interest rates remain low. Greater household demand helped propel the economy ahead in the second quarter at a 3.9 percent annualized rate, and a 0.4 percent gain in August household outlays shows persistent strength, recent data showed.
"Consumer spending overall has been on the rise," Gary Langer, president of the New York-based Langer Research Associates, which conducts the survey for Bloomberg, said in a statement.
The increase in sentiment last week reflected more optimism among those earning more than $50,000 a year. Households making between $75,000 and $100,000 were the most upbeat since mid-January. Regionally, confidence climbed in the West and South.