Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg

Consumer Comfort in U.S. Declines to Extend September Retreat

American household confidence declined last week, extending a September retreat from a 16-year high the previous month as consumers became less upbeat about the economy, the buying climate and their finances, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended Sept. 17)

  • Main index dropped to 50.6, a seven-week low, from 51.9
  • Index of buying climate eased to a two-month low of 42.1 from 42.5
  • Gauge of current views on the economy decreased to 50.7 from 53.2
  • Measure of comfort about personal finances declined to 59 from 59.9
  • Monthly gauge of economic expectations fell to 51.5 in September from 54

Key Takeaways

The latest results marked the first time that all three sub-indices have fallen during the same week since July. Consumers’ views of the buying climate deteriorated as gasoline prices remained higher than they were in August before Hurricane Harvey disrupted refinery output in the Houston area.

The report also showed a tempering of economic expectations as 31 percent said the economy was improving, down from 36 percent in August. More respondents in September said the economy was staying the same than said it was getting better. Even with the setback this month, the level of consumer comfort exceeds the 2017 average and is higher than its long-term mean, suggesting spending -- which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy -- will remain steady.

Other Details

  • Comfort among homeowners exceeds that of renters by the most since 2005
  • Measure of confidence among blacks advanced to highest level since January
  • The partisan gap between Republicans and Democrats narrowed for the second straight week
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