Consumer Comfort in U.S. Increased Last Week to One-Month High

  • Weekly measure of personal-finance views gained 2.2 points
  • Bloomberg's monthly economic sentiment gauge eased in March

Consumer sentiment in the U.S. climbed last week to a one-month high as Americans grew more upbeat about their personal finances.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to 44.3 in the period ended March 13 from 43.8 the prior week. The measure has stayed within the 1 point range for the last 12 weeks. A monthly index tracking the economic outlook eased to a five-month low of 42 in March from 42.5.

“We are in a moment in which the economy is in still in somewhat unequivocal position,” Gary Langer, president of New York-based Langer Research Associates LLC, which compiles the data for Bloomberg, said in an interview. 

“There are both positive and negative trends, conditions haven’t fully resolved themselves into a steady improvement in consumer sentiment this year, and therefore sentiment is going to be vulnerable to evolving economic indicators but evolving political indicators as well,” Langer said.

The share of respondents saying that the economy would improve fell to 23 percent from 24 percent, while the share seeing it getting worse held at 38 percent.

Personal Finances

The weekly measure of households’ views of their personal finances gained 2.2 points, the biggest gain since the end of June, to 58.1. The gauge tracking whether it’s a good time to make purchases was little changed at 39.5 from 39.4, while current views of the economy cooled to 35.4 from 35.9.

Sentiment among part-time workers improved to the highest since October, while confidence was little changed among full-timers. Men were more upbeat than at any time since April.

Expectations brightened among four of the seven income groups, with households making less than $50,000 being the most optimistic since October. Regionally, confidence climbed in the Northeast and South.

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