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U.S. Consumer Comfort Reaches Highest Level in More Than 19 Years

Max Reyes

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. consumer confidence advanced last week to the highest level in more than 19 years on increased optimism about the economy, personal finances and the buying climate.

Bloomberg’s index of consumer comfort rose to 66 in the week ended Jan. 12, the best reading since October 2000, from 65.1, according to a report Thursday. The gain was the eighth in the last nine weeks. A measure of Americans’ views of the economy climbed to the highest since early 2001.

Key Insights

A resilient labor market and income gains fueled in part by record stock prices are driving optimism about the economy. Elevated household sentiment could help power the consumer spending that has been the economy’s mainstay as company’s pare investment and manufacturing struggles with weak export markets.The comfort gauge of personal finances increased to the highest level since mid-September, helped both by the bull market in stocks and moderate wage gains as the jobless rate holds at a 50-year low.

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The comfort index of the buying climate rose last week to 58, matching the second-best reading on record and a sign consumers will keep spending.The latest reading for consumer comfort is 4.8 points ahead of last year’s average.The comfort gauge among married adults increased to a record in data back to mid-1990.By region, comfort in the Midwest rose to the highest level since September 2000.

To contact the reporter on this story: Max Reyes in New York at mreyes125@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Scott Lanman at slanman@bloomberg.net, Vince Golle

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