Consumer Comfort in U.S. Decreases for First Time in Five Weeks

Americans’ confidence dropped for the first time in five weeks as households became less upbeat about the state of their finances amid a decline in stock prices, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures showed Thursday.

Key Points

  • Weekly comfort measure fell to a five-week low of 49.7 in period ended March 26 from 51.3; it was the biggest decrease since mid-September
  • Personal finances gauge dropped to 57.4, also the weakest in five weeks, from 59.2
  • Buying-climate measure decreased 2 points, the most since August, to 44.5
  • Sentiment about national economy eased to 47.1, weakest in a month, from 48.1

Big Picture

The drop in sentiment, which included setbacks among middle- and higher-income earners, represents a break in post-election U.S. enthusiasm and coincides with declines in stock prices, as the S&P 500 Index had its biggest weekly drop since November. Confidence broke along partisan and gender lines, with both gaps widening. Sentiment among households in the South was also near a decade high. Household spending that builds off the recent gains in optimism would help drive the economy.

The Details

  • All income brackets of Americans earning at least $40,000 were less optimistic last week, including a six-week low among those who earn $75,000 to $100,000
  • Confidence fell in three of four regions, while it rose in the South to the highest level since the week ended April 1, 2007
  • Sentiment of Republicans exceeded that of Democrats by the most since March 2009
  • Women were more pessimistic last week, while sentiment among men rose to the highest level since May 2007
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