U.S. household sentiment improved for the first time in five weeks on more upbeat views about personal finances and the economy, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index showed May 24.
Highlights of Consumer Comfort for the Week Ended May 20
• Weekly index rose to 55.2 from 54.6.
• Gauge of personal finances increased to a four-week high of 63.5 from 62.1.
• Index tracking current views of the economy increased to 56.5 from 55.8, marking just the second advance since mid-March.
• Measure of buying climate little changed at 45.7 after 45.8.
Americans’ views of their finances strengthened, supported by stock markets that have recouped some losses in recent weeks, along with tax cuts that are putting more money in people’s pockets.
The index tracking views on the broader economy also improved, helped by modest wage growth and the lowest unemployment rate in more than 17 years.
Even so, the main gauge registered its second-lowest reading since early February, with sentiment under pressure from higher prices at the gas pump.
As more take-home pay is spent to fill up vehicles, less is left over to spend at stores and restaurants. Higher fuel costs tend to hit lower-income individuals hardest, and the gauge of comfort among those earning less than $15,000 a year declined to a seven-week low.
• Weekly comfort gauge for Americans earning $50,000 or more fell to the lowest since mid-January; sentiment of those making more than $100,000 is weakest this year.
• Comfort improved in Northeast, South, West; fell in Midwest to lowest since March.