Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg

U.S. Consumer Comfort Declines by Most in a Year on Finances

Americans’ confidence suffered its biggest weekly setback in more than a year as optimism about personal finances slumped, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended Oct. 1)

  • Consumer comfort measure dropped to 49.9 from 51.6, the sharpest decline since September 2016
  • Index of personal finances fell to 57.1 from 60.1, the biggest decrease since August 2016
  • Gauge of current views on the economy slipped to 50.9 from 51.8 
  • Index of buying climate deteriorated to 41.5 from 42.8

Key Takeaways

The data marked the fourth decline in the last five weeks following a 16-year high at the end of August. The index, now the lowest since July, is down 3.4 points from that peak. The weakness was driven by a sudden drop in optimism about personal finances, which had reached a three-month high a week earlier. The result may partly reflect what Americans are paying at the gas pump, as prices remain elevated after climbing sharply in response to Hurricane Harvey.

Sentiment was particularly weak among women, with the gauge falling to the lowest level since January on more concern about personal finances and the economy. In contrast, male respondents were more upbeat, leading to the widest gender gap since December 2006.

Other Details

  • Sentiment among black respondents rose to its highest level since November and fell among whites to the lowest since mid-July
  • Comfort among consumers pulled back in the West, dropping 6 points to the lowest level since July
  • Confidence fell among all age groups except 35- to 44-year-olds
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