General View of the U.S. Economy (Photographer: Charles Mostoller/Bloomberg)

U.S. Consumer Comfort Rises to New 17-Year High

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. consumer sentiment advanced last week to a fresh 17-year high on brighter views of the economy, personal finances and the buying climate, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended Sept. 16)

  • Weekly comfort index rose to 60.2, the highest since January 2001, from 59
  • Gauge tracking views of economy also rose to a new a 17-year high, climbing to 64.3 from 62.9
  • Measure of buying climate climbed to 52.5, highest since September 2000, from 51.5
  • Monthly economic expectations index rose to 57.5 in September, the highest since March 2002

Key Takeaways

Rising confidence across all three index components shows Americans growing more upbeat amid one of the best job markets in decades and should support household spending, the largest component of the economy. The survey responses are consistent with consumer sentiment reflected in the latest University of Michigan report, which showed confidence in September jumped to a six-month high. Gaps, however, persist among comfort figures by race, income, and political affiliation.

In addition, the intensifying trade war could weigh on consumer moods as the Trump administration proceeds with tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods starting next week, something that economists say may fuel inflation on everyday items such as food, furniture and clothing.

Other Details

  • Rating of personal finances improved to 63.7 from 62.6
  • Sentiment among Republicans jumped to 79.8, a record in data since June 1990, while the mood among Democrats also increased and the reading for independents edged down
  • The comfort gauge for the South increased to near-record 64.3 as readings also improved across the Midwest, Northeast and West
  • Confidence among married respondents reached a record 71.5

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