January 11, 2018 1:15 PM, EST

Consumer Comfort Rises to Highest Level in Almost 17 Years

Getty Images

Americans’ confidence began 2018 by rising to an almost 17-year high on greater optimism about the U.S. economy and buying climate, according to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index released Jan. 11.

Highlights of Consumer Comfort for the Week Ended Jan. 7.

• Weekly index rose to 53.5, the best reading since March 2001, from 51.8.

• Measure tracking views of the economy rose to 55.8, also the highest since March 2001, from 53.6.

• Comfort measure of buying climate rose to 44.6, the second-strongest since August, from 42.5.

• Personal finances gauge improved to a two-month high of 60.2 from 59.4.

Key Takeaways

The improvement in sentiment at the start of the new year shows Americans are optimistic about economic conditions as unemployment remains at the lowest since 2000 and stocks continue to rally.

Subtle inflation has also contributed to upbeat attitudes about the retail environment, which could continue to stimulate consumer spending after a robust holiday-shopping season.

Other Details

• Gaps in confidence by income remain large, with an index of comfort among those in the $100,000-plus income bracket exceeding sentiment among those earning less than $50,000 by about 36 points.

• Comfort among Democrats surged to the highest since August, while Republicans’ sentiment was the strongest since May 2007.

• Comfort gauge of consumers in the Northeast was the highest of all regions and at an almost 17-year high.

• Homeowners, men and senior Americans were more upbeat than at any time in almost 17 years.