Photographer: Cassi Alexandra/Bloomberg

U.S. Economic Expectations Sour in October; Weekly Comfort Rises

Americans grew more pessimistic this month about the direction of the economy, though a measure of consumer sentiment rose in the most recent week, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended Oct. 15)

  • Weekly comfort index advanced to 51.1 from 49.5, the first increase in three weeks
  • Separate monthly gauge of economic expectations fell to a three-month low of 47.5 in October from 51.5
  • Weekly gauge of current views on the economy jumped to 53.6 from 51.6
  • Index of buying climate rose to 41.9 from 40.8; comfort about personal finances increased to 57.8 from 56

Key Takeaways

The drop in the monthly economic gauge may reflect lingering effects of Hurricane Harvey, which interrupted Texas refinery output and led to higher gas prices that remain above pre-storm levels even after recent declines. The report showed 29 percent of respondents said the economy was getting better in October, down from 31 percent in the previous month. At the same time, falling gas prices -- along with gains in equities and a post-storm economic rebound -- could also be supporting the weekly rise in consumer comfort, which is still below a 16-year high reached in August.

Other Details

  • Confidence rose in all four U.S. regions
  • Comfort among respondents with household incomes below $50,000 rose to highest in data going back to late 2010
  • Sentiment among people with only a high school diploma advanced to highest level since March
  • Partisan gap between Democrats and Republicans widened for a third week, favoring Republicans by 18.8 points
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