Consumer Comfort in U.S. Steadies as Views of Economy Improve

  • Bloomberg sentiment gauge remains below this year's average
  • Comfort index falls for households earning more than $100,000

Consumer confidence stabilized last week after faltering since mid-October as Americans’ perceptions about the U.S. economy and the buying climate improved.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index was little changed at 40.1 in the period ended Dec. 6 from 39.6 the prior week. Even with the slight gain, the gauge remains below this year’s average of 43.

Sentiment among households earning more than $100,000 a year fell to the lowest since early August, possibly reflecting swings in the stock market tied in part to concerns about cooler global growth. Subdued household attitudes threaten to carry over through less activity at cash registers during the holiday-shopping season.

Two of the three components of the comfort index advanced last week. The gauge of Americans’ current views of the economy rose to 31.7 from 30.6 the prior week.

The measure of the buying climate, showing whether this is a good time to purchase goods and services, climbed to 35.3 from 34.5. The index of personal finances eased to 53.4, the lowest since mid-August, from 53.7 the prior week.

Evidence of a stronger labor market was reflected elsewhere in the report. The measure of confidence among Americans with full-time jobs increased to 46.4 from 43.8, halting a nine-week downturn. Those employed part-time also were less pessimistic.

Payrolls climbed by 211,000 in November and the jobless rate held at a more than seven-year low of 5 percent, Labor Department data showed last week.

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