Consumer comfort gauge at 16-year high
Americans last week registered their strongest optimism in 16 years on more upbeat views about the state of the economy, their personal finances and the buying atmosphere, according to Bloomberg Consumer Comfort data released Thursday.
The weekly consumer comfort measure jumped to 51.4, highest since the week ending Aug. 19, 2001, from 49.6, and the index of current views on the economy rose to 51, also a 16-year high, from 48.6. The personal finances gauge increased to an eight-week high of 58.9 from 58.
Consumers had reason to feel upbeat last week with stocks again reaching all-time highs and as last Friday’s report on July employment confirmed that the strong labor market remains intact.
Record-high job vacancies help explain why lowerincome Americans and the unemployed are more positive about their prospects. The latter group hasn’t been this optimistic since before the last recession. While the robust job market is offsetting the disappointment tied to lack of progress in Washington on health care and tax overhaul measures, geopolitical tensions related to North Korea represent a risk to consumer optimism.
All four regions advanced, with sentiment in the South at its strongest since early April and comfort in the West at its highest since February.