January 14, 2016 9:50 AM, EST
Consumer Comfort Improved Last Week to Three-Month High
John Fraissinet/Flickr

Consumer confidence in the United States last week reached a three-month high, driven by a more upbeat assessment of the world’s largest economy.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index inched up to 44.4 in the period ended Jan. 10, from 44.2 the prior week. It marked the sixth straight increase, bringing the gauge to the highest level since early October and keeping it above the 2015 average of 42.9.

Americans were most upbeat about the economy than at any time since the first week of April, which is probably a reflection of a robust labor market as confirmed by the December jobs report. Sentiment reached an eight-month peak for people earning more than $100,000, even as the stock market weakened.

“Improved perceptions of the nation’s economy have been key to the recent climb,” Gary Langer, president of the New York-based Langer Research Associates, which conducts the survey for Bloomberg, said in a statement. Recent advances in sentiment “foreshadowed last week’s exceptionally strong December jobs report.”

The report’s measure of the buying climate, showing whether this is a good time to purchase goods and services, held at 39.4 last week, while the index of personal finances decreased to 55.9 from 56.2. The gauge of views on the economy rose by 1 point to 38.

The sentiment measure climbed to 44.7, the highest since mid-November, for Americans 65 years or older. Those in the 55 to 64 age group were also more upbeat. Moods improved for renters, college graduates and those living in the western United States.

Employers in December added 292,000 workers, exceeding the highest estimate in a Bloomberg survey, and payrolls for the previous two months were revised higher, a Labor Department report showed on Jan. 8. The jobless rate held at 5% as people entering the labor force found work.