U.S. Consumer Comfort Eases From 17-Year High as Gas Prices Rise

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. consumer sentiment eased last week from a 17-year high as Americans felt the pinch of higher gasoline prices, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended April 22)

  • Weekly comfort index cooled to 57.5 from 58.1
  • Personal finances measure dropped to 64.3 from 65.9, the biggest one-week decline since Oct. 1
  • Gauge tracking views of the economy crept up to 57.9 from 57.3, first gain in five weeks
  • Comfort index of buying climate fell to 50.2 from 51.1, first drop in six weeks

Key Takeaways

Retail gasoline prices at their highest since mid-2015 are hitting Americans in their pocketbooks, helping explain the more subdued personal finances measure. Even with the outsize decline in the gauge, it’s still close to the highest level since 2001. Sustained hiring, fewer layoffs and gradually improving wage growth are softening the blow from higher prices at the gas pump. Sentiment declined among those earning less than $50,000 a year, underscoring the burden of rising fuel costs on lower-income Americans.

Other Details

  • Index of comfort among those earning less than $50,000 a year fell for the first time since the week ended March 11; comfort rose among those making more
  • Those between ages of 45-54 were the only group whose sentiment improved this week over last week
  • Sentiment decreased in Northeast, West; increased in Midwest, South
  • Sentiment among black Americans highest since February 2015

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