U.S. consumer comfort falls to four-month low on finance outlook

THE BLOOMBERG Consumer Comfort Index declined to 58.5 last week from 59.5 as a measure of ratings about personal finances also fell to a four-month low. /BLOOMBERG NEWS/VICTOR J. BLUE
THE BLOOMBERG Consumer Comfort Index declined to 58.5 last week from 59.5 as a measure of ratings about personal finances also fell to a four-month low. /BLOOMBERG NEWS/VICTOR J. BLUE

NEW YORK – A measure of Americans’ sentiment fell to a four-month low as gauges of views on personal finances and the national economy declined amid the trade war and partial federal-government shutdown.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index declined to 58.5 last week from 59.5 as a measure of ratings about personal finances also fell to a four-month low, according to a report Thursday. Gauges of the national economy and the buying climate both declined.

Key insights

Lower readings across all three main index components correspond with a dimmer outlook for the U.S. economy. The growth boosts from tax cuts and government spending are poised to fade this year amid rising political uncertainty from an extended federal shutdown in Washington. The report is also consistent with other measures showing weakening consumer and business sentiment. During the 16-day government shutdown in 2013, the comfort index fell for several weeks before recovering to prior levels. The decline in the overall index reflected worsening views from women, workers earning $50,000 to $100,000 and those without a high school degree. Sentiment among Republicans reached a one-month high, the reading for Democrats fell to a two-month low and comfort among independents was little changed.

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The comfort gauge among workers earning $25,000 to $40,000 rose to the highest level since 2001. Even with the decline in the main index, it remains elevated historically and is slightly above the 2018 average.

Chibuike Oguh is a reporter for Bloomberg News.