Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg

Americans' Views of Economy Dim in Weekly Consumer Comfort Gauge

Americans’ perceptions about the economy took a big step back last week even as their views about their own finances and the buying climate stabilized, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (week ended July 2)

  • Overall measure of consumer comfort at 48.5, lowest since February, after 48.6 the prior week
  • Gauge of economy slumped to 45.5 from 48.6, first drop in six weeks
  • Personal finances gauge rose to 57.5, the first gain in five weeks
  • Buying-climate measure rose to 42.4 from 41; has been below 2017 average for three weeks

Key Takeaways

Consumer optimism is showing signs of pulling back from its post-election surge, with the comfort index easing after three months of robust readings just below an almost 16-year high. Still, the gauge closed out the best half-year since the final six months of 2011 as households embraced solid opportunities in the labor market. What’s more, slightly stronger sentiment about personal finances and the buying climate suggest consumers will continue to spend at a moderate pace.

Other Details

  • Comfort index closed the second quarter with a 50.1 average, its best since the third quarter of 2001
  • National economy index posted its biggest weekly drop since February 2015
  • Sentiment among those making more than $100,000 fell to the lowest since mid-April; confidence rose slightly among those earning less than $50,000
  • Comfort fell among blacks -- matching the weakest reading since September 2014 -- and rose for whites, resulting in the widest disparity in more than a decade
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