Consumer Comfort Jumps on Big Upswing in Views of U.S. Economy

Consumer sentiment climbed last week by the most since January 2015 on one of the biggest gains ever recorded for Americans’ attitudes about the economy, according to figures from the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index released Thursday.

Key Points

  • Comfort gauge rose to 43.9, the highest level since early September, from 41.3
  • The 2.6 point increase was largest since period ended Jan. 25, 2015
  • Gauge of views on economy jumped to 35.9 -- the highest since March -- from 32.2
  • Personal finances measure rose to seven-week high of 56.6 from 54.3
  • Buying-climate measure increased to 39.3, the best since early September, from 37.4

Big Picture

The broad-based brightening of consumers’ attitudes is reassuring after index readings languished over the past two months, and may indicate household spending will remain steady heading into the holiday-shopping season. At the same time, the latest reading marks the biggest one-week jump since early last year might be difficult to sustain absent a more meaningful boost to wages. Ahead of the U.S. election on Nov. 8, Americans of all political affiliations registered greater optimism, though the gap between Democrats and Republicans widened to the largest in nine weeks.

The Details

  • Comfort among political independents jumped 3.4 points, while it rose 3.2 points for Democrats and 1.5 points among Republicans
  • Sentiment improved in three of four regions, led by the South, where it rose 5 points
  • Confidence among respondents ages 18 to 34 jumped 6 points last week, the first increase in seven weeks; each of the older four age groups increased less than 2 points
  • Americans making between $25,000 and $40,000 were the most upbeat since April 2015, and sentiment among the unemployed climbed to the highest since March 2015
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