American Consumers’ Economic Outlook Strongest Since Early 2015

Consumers Share the Market’s Sense of Optimism

Americans’ economic expectations rose in December to the highest level in almost two years in the month following the presidential election, according to figures in the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index released Thursday.

Key Points

  • Economic expectations jumped to 53.5 this month, the strongest since February 2015, from 44 in November
  • The 9.5-point monthly gain was the largest since a similar advance in October 2014
  • Weekly consumer comfort gauge climbed to 46.7 in the period ended Dec. 19, the highest since April of last year, from 45.5
  • Weekly index of views about present economic conditions rose to the highest level since January 2015

Big Picture

The sizable shift in expectations about the economy, most notably among $50,000-plus earners, homeowners and Republicans, could invigorate the household spending that is the economy’s bread and butter. For the first time since March 2015, the share of those who say the economy is getting better exceeded the percentage who say it’s worsening. The increase in confidence, consistent with a similar pickup in business sentiment, coincides with a stock-market rally in anticipation that President-elect Donald Trump’s policies will boost corporate earnings and growth.

The Details

  • Comfort gauge has averaged 45.4 in the six weeks since the November presidential election, in line with the pre-recession mean
  • Weekly measure of personal finances rose to 56.8 from 56.1
  • Sentiment among those earning above $100,000 remains close to a 10-year high
  • Confidence lower since election for Democrats, renters and unemployed
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