U.S. Comfort Gauge for Economy Posts Steepest Slide Since April

A gauge of sentiment among U.S. consumers declined for a fifth straight week, pushed lower by the steepest drop for views of the economic outlook since April amid the worst-yet phase of the pandemic.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell 1.4 points to a two-month low of 47 last week, data released Thursday showed. The sentiment index for the national economy slipped to the lowest level in almost four months, while the gauge for personal finances also saw a fifth-straight drop.

U.S. Comfort Gauge for Economy Posts Steepest Slide Since April

The data are the latest sign of pessimism as the continuing outbreak spurs states to re-impose restrictions on travel and businesses. The main comfort reading remains well below pre-pandemic levels despite the promise of fresh fiscal stimulus and new vaccines now rolling out.

The report follows others this week showing consumers are less upbeat. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell in December to a four-month low, while the University of Michigan’s final sentiment reading for the month came in below the preliminary number that was initially reported.

Thursday’s report, reflecting interviews through Dec. 20, also showed that comfort readings for those 65 and over, making under $50,000, high-school graduates and Republicans all decreased to the lowest levels since July.

Attitudes about the buying climate, however, were a bright spot, with that component of the comfort survey rising to the best level in five weeks.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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