A man dressed as Santa Claus walks through a crowd of people at Rockefeller Center in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

Consumer Comfort in U.S. Rises to a 13-Week High on Finances

(Bloomberg) -- Improved sentiment about the buying climate and personal finances helped carry household optimism to a 13-week high, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index figures showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended Dec. 3)

  • Weekly index advanced to 52.3, highest since week ended Sept. 3, from 51.6
  • Gauge of buying climate rose to 44.7, strongest since Aug. 27, from 44
  • Index of personal finances climbed to five-week high of 60.1 from 58.8
  • Measure of current views of economy little changed at 52.1 after 52 

Key Takeaways

Consumer sentiment is closing in on its best year since 2001. Stocks at all-time highs, unemployment near a 17-year low and firmer economic growth are leading to brighter views of personal finances and the economy. One sign of the stock market’s effect on optimism was that confidence among those who are unemployed, which includes retirees, reached a new 16-year high as the values of retirement accounts climbed.

Relatively limited inflation has also laid the ground for rosier attitudes about the buying climate, indicating firm spending during the holiday-shopping season.

Consumer Comfort in U.S. Rises to a 13-Week High on Finances

Other Details

  • Comfort index of those not employed for pay increased to 48.8 from 47.9
  • Sentiment among Republican respondents reached the highest level in a decade as Congress made progress on legislation to lower taxes
  • Index of comfort among those earning less than $50,000 climbed to the highest in data back to 2010

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