U.S. Consumer Comfort Eases for First Time in Weeks on Outbreak

U.S. consumer confidence cooled for the first time in seven weeks, raising the prospects of a tempering in the economic recovery as a pickup in Covid-19 infections prompts several states to dial back reopenings.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index slipped 0.4 point to 42.9 in the week ended July 5, according to data out Thursday. A measure of attitudes about the buying climate and a gauge of sentiment among respondents in the South, where outbreaks have been prominent, both dropped to three-week lows.

The pause in the overall gauge’s upward momentum since a six-year low in mid-May highlights the link between Americans’ concerns about the pandemic and the outlook for consumer spending. With some states freezing or rolling back their economic reopenings, the health concerns and uncertainty threaten to slow the recovery speed for an economy that entered a recession in February.

The CCI is 24.4 points below its two-decade high in late January and 8.2 points higher than the May low.

The gauge of personal finances also dropped last week as consumers remained cautious about their incomes. At the same time, an index of sentiment about the national economy advanced to an almost three-month high in the wake of consecutive monthly record increases in payrolls.

Further declines in consumer sentiment could add to concerns that the recent bounceback in the economy is beginning to level off. Some workers who were rehired have already been fired again amid a pause in reopenings. Concerns about the opening of schools in the fall also add to trepidation about recovery.

The comfort figures also showed the gender gap in confidence narrowed to its smallest point since March 2017 as confidence among women strengthened.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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