U.S. Consumer Comfort Improved Last Week as Buying Mood Surged

(Bloomberg) -- A measure of Americans’ sentiment rose for a second week as a gauge of views on the buying climate jumped to an 18-year high after a five-week government shutdown ended.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose to 60 last week from 58.2, according to a report Thursday. A measure of ratings about personal finances climbed to a 10-week high, while a gauge of the national economy edged up.

Key Insights

  • Gains across all three main components of the comfort gauge indicate consumers are becoming more optimistic despite the trade war and the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history. Commerce Department data out Thursday morning also showed U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in December, posting the worst drop in nine years.
  • Sentiment among Democrats rose for the first time in six weeks, while the reading for Republicans fell for the second straight week and the level for independents increased.

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  • The comfort gauge rose in all four regions, with the Northeast recording the largest gain from the previous week. The Midwest index advanced to a fresh 18-year high.
  • A measure of sentiment among those earning $25,000 to $40,000 rose to the highest since 2001, while a comfort index for high school graduates rose to an 18-year high.

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