Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Mixed Data on U.S. Consumer Comfort Suggest Restrained Spending

Declining confidence among Americans in their personal finances and the buying climate may restrain spending even as the economic outlook improves, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (week ended June 18)

  • Monthly measure of economic expectations rose to 52.0 in June from 49.5 in May
  • Weekly comfort measure to 49.4 in period ended June 18 from 50.0 the prior week
  • Gauge of personal finances dropped to 57.5, lowest since March
  • Buying-climate measure fell to 42.5, lowest since February

Key Takeaways

While the headline measure of comfort remains near a 10-year high, the divergence among its components suggests that Americans might hold back a bit on consumption. The data follow last week’s reading on the monthly University of Michigan consumer-sentiment gauge, which had the biggest drop since October amid concerns about President Donald Trump’s economic policies and their chances of passing through Congress. Even so, a solid job market and rising wages should continue to support spending and the broader economy.

Other Details

  • Personal-finance gauge saw steepest three-week drop since August 2012; remains above long-term average
  • In monthly poll, 32 percent of Americans say the national economy is getting better while 28 percent say it’s getting worse; compares with May result of 28 percent for better and 27 percent for worse
  • Comfort among Americans earning less than $50,000 fell to a five-month low; for those making more than $100,000, it rose to highest since March
  • Gap in sentiment between Republicans and Democrats widened to five-week high
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