Photographer: Sarah Blesener/Bloomberg

American Consumer Comfort Remains Close to a 17-Year High

U.S. consumer sentiment held near a 17-year high last week as households grew more upbeat about their finances despite a sell-off in equities tied to concerns about a trade war, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended March 25)

  • Weekly index was unchanged at 56.8 
  • Personal finances gauge rose to 63.8, the highest since May 2007, from 62.9 the prior week
  • Measure tracking views of the economy fell to 58.7, the lowest since February, from 59.7
  • Comfort measure of buying climate held at 47.8

Key Takeaways

For the past six weeks, the gauge of comfort has been within 0.8 point of its highest level since February 2001. While stock-market volatility may be leaving consumers a bit less upbeat about the state of the economy, a solid job market and bigger after-tax incomes are boosting sentiment about personal finances. Respondents with incomes of less than $50,000 a year were more upbeat than the prior week, while comfort fell for a sixth week among those earning more than $100,000, an indication that weaker stock prices are taking a toll on confidence of wealthier Americans.

Other Details

  • Sentiment among men rose for the second week, while declining among women
  • Comfort index of single Americans was the highest since June 2002; near 17-year high among those who are married
  • Confidence rose among Republicans and fell among Democrats; gap favoring Republicans is widest since December 2007, while political independents’ comfort strongest since February 2001
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