Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg

More Optimism About U.S. Buying Climate Signals Spending Rebound

  • Gauge climbs to 15-year high, boosting Bloomberg comfort gauge
  • Measure of personal-finance views advances to a decade high

Consumer spending may be set to emerge from a weak first quarter as Americans last week became more upbeat about the buying climate than at any time in the last 15 years and optimism about personal finances reached a decade high, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Bloomberg Consumer Comfort (Week Ended May 21)
  • Buying-climate gauge jumped to 46.7, highest since December 2001, from 44.8
  • Measure of personal finances increased to 62.1 last week from 60.6
  • Sentiment about national economy eased to 43.9, lowest since February, from 45.3
  • Overall comfort measure was 50.9 after 50.2

Key Takeaways

Americans are gaining confidence in their financial well-being amid buoyant stock prices and improving property values, and steady job gains should give way to burgeoning wage growth. At the same time, their soaring post-election optimism about the U.S. economy continues to evaporate. Together the gauges paint a picture of still-strong consumer comfort that should help keep household purchases as the engine of growth as the economy emerges from a soft patch at the start of 2017.

Other Details

  • Sentiment in the Northeast soared to 54.6, the highest since March 2007, from 51.4; comfort also rose to a nine-week high in the West while easing in the South and Midwest
  • Comfort continues to be divided along party lines, with Republicans’ sentiment outpacing that of Democrats and political independents
  • Full-time workers were the most upbeat since early April, while sentiment among unemployed respondents was at a four-week high, showing sustained strength in the labor market
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