U.S. Consumer Comfort Jumps to Highest Level Since April 2015

  • Two-week advance of 3.5 points is biggest since April 2009
  • Measure of buying climate is strongest in more than a year

American consumers grew more upbeat last week than at any time since April 2015, signaling robust spending will continue amid favorable views of the buying climate and household finances, the weekly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed Thursday.

Key Points

  • Comfort gauge climbed to 45.3 for the period ended Aug. 21, from 43.6
  • Measure rose 3.5 points in last two weeks, most since April 2009
  • Buying climate gauge increased to 42.4, also the strongest reading since April 2015, from 39.8
  • Personal finances index rose by 2.5 points, biggest advance since January 2015, to 57.8
  • Sentiment about economy was little changed at 35.8 versus 35.7

Big Picture

Even though consumers have their doubts about the economy, they certainly have a new-found spring in their step. Merchandise discounts from retailers and still-cheap fuel are helping convince Americans that now is a good time to shop. Furthermore, record stock prices, low interest rates and a labor market near full employment are making Americans optimistic about their financial situations. A more confident consumer is more likely to spend, bolstering forecasts that the economy will pick up after a tepid first half of 2016.

The Details

  • Sentiment among those living in the U.S. Northeast showed the biggest advance by region
  • Confidence of consumers who vote Democratic was the strongest in six months, a reflection of polls showing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leading Republican nominee Donald Trump
  • Comfort of Democrats exceeds that of Republicans by double digits for a 10th straight week
  • Part-time workers, the unemployed and home owners were more upbeat last week
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