U.S. Consumer Comfort Eases to Still-Strong Level Before Holiday

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. consumer sentiment cooled from a 13-week high, while remaining at an elevated level during the heart of the holiday-shopping season, figures from the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended Dec. 10)

  • Weekly index fell to 51.3 from 52.3 
  • Measure tracking current views of economy fell to 50.9, the lowest since week ended Oct. 1, from 52.1
  • Index of buying climate eroded to 44 from 44.7 
  • Personal finances gauge slipped to 58.9 from 60.1

Key Takeaways

Even though it eased, the measure of consumer comfort for the latest reporting week was still the highest for any comparable period since 2000, suggesting holiday sales will be robust. Americans are embracing a rosier economic picture, record stock prices this month and an unemployment rate at an almost 17-year low. These reasons help explain why Federal Reserve policy makers raised their benchmark lending rate on Wednesday by a quarter percentage point to a target range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent.

Other Details

  • Sentiment among consumers in the U.S. South was the highest in a decade; up 9.7 points this year
  • Comfort among black consumers fell to 29.7, lowest since early July; comfort among whites is hovering close to a 16-year high
  • Republicans’ comfort eased from decade high; Democrats’ comfort advanced to five-week high

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