Favorable Views of Finances Drive U.S. Consumer Comfort Higher

(Bloomberg) -- Increased optimism about personal finances and the buying climate propelled U.S. consumer sentiment last week to a fresh 17-year high, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed Thursday.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort (Week Ended April 8)

  • Weekly comfort index rose to 58, the highest since Feb. 2001, from 57.2
  • Personal finances measure advanced to 66, the highest since Aug. 2001, from 64.7
  • Comfort index of buying climate rose to 50.4, the strongest since Oct. 2000, from 49.1
  • Gauge tracking views of the economy was little changed at 57.7 from 57.8 

Key Takeaways

Sustained strength in the job market and more take-home pay following federal tax cuts continue to lift Americans’ spirits despite stock-market swings and the threat of a trade war. The optimism could provide an added boost to household spending and the economy. Following the latest increase, the personal finances index is now just 4 points short of an all-time high reached in 1998, while the buying-climate measure is 6.6 points from its 2000 record. The figures are in sync with the government’s latest jobs report, which showed steady improvement in the labor market.

Other Details

  • Index of sentiment climbed in three of four regions, led by Midwest; fell in South
  • Comfort among Democrats picked up, while confidence among Republicans is the second-highest since 2000
  • Women more upbeat than at any time since 2001, while comfort among respondents who earn less than $50,000 was the highest in records back to Dec. 2010

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