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U.S. Consumer Comfort Regains Some Ground After Shutdown Ends

(Bloomberg) -- A measure of U.S. consumer sentiment improved for the first time in five weeks as political tension in Washington eased after the longest government shutdown in the country’s history.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to 58.2 last week from 57.4, according to a report Thursday. A measure of ratings about personal finances climbed to a seven-week high, while gauges of the buying climate and national economy also posted gains.

Key Insights

  • The broad advance shows sentiment brightening after the five-week government shutdown ended Jan. 25. The rebound following the political impasse and financial-market volatility it spurred brings the main gauge back closer to the 17-year high that it reached in September.
  • The recovery follows a January jobs report showing that the labor market remained surprisingly robust with solid wage gains that could help support consumer spending.

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  • The comfort gauge rose in three of four regions, with the Midwest index rising to the highest since 2000 and the West posting a decline.
  • Sentiment among Democrats declined to its lowest level since September, while the reading for Republicans dropped and the level for independents increased.
  • Comfort for those ages 35 to 44 fell for a third week as other age groups showed gains.

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