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March 1, 2018 10:45 AM, EST

Consumer Comfort Hovers Near Highest Level in 17 Years

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News

Americans’ sentiment remained close to a 17-year high on rosier views of personal finances and the buying climate, as workers enjoy more take-home pay after the recent tax-cut legislation, according to the weekly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index released March 1.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort for the Week Ended Feb. 25

• Weekly index eased to 56.2 from 56.6.

• Personal finances gauge was little changed at 60.6 after 60.4.

• Index of buying climate increased to 48.4 from 47.8.

• Measure tracking current views of the economy dropped to 59.7 from 61.7, its largest one-week decline since October.

Key Takeaways

Robust sentiment last week was driven by a pickup in optimism among middle- and upper-income Americans. Comfort among those earning $50,000 or more annually reached a 17-year high last week.

RELATED: Consumer sentiment jumps after tax cuts blunt stock gyrations

At the same time, confidence declined among people earning less than $50,000, highlighting disparities in comfort levels among different income groups. Sustained optimism and lower taxes have the potential of boosting consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of the economy.

Other Details

• Comfort among Americans with a college education reached the highest reading since March 2001.

• Married Americans reported their highest comfort level since December 2000.

• Among the four U.S. regions, sentiment was higher last week only in the South.