Consumer confidence rose for a third straight week, capping the best quarter in almost eight years as greater purchasing power boosted Americans’ views of their finances and buying climate.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index climbed to 46.2 in the week ended March 29, its second-highest reading since July 2007, from 45.5 the prior week. The index averaged 44.7 in the first quarter, its best performance since the second quarter of 2007.
Americans may be more inclined to spend as a stronger dollar makes imported merchandise cheaper and low gasoline prices lifts discretionary income. Better employment opportunities, buying conditions and attitudes about household finances lay the groundwork for a pickup in consumer spending, which makes up about 70 percent of the U.S. economy.
The reading for personal finances climbed to 60.1, the second-highest since October 2007, from 58.9. The sentiment gauge about the state of the economy cooled to a three-week low of 37.1 from 37.7.
Confidence among seniors increased to the highest level since July 2007, while the outlook among the 18-to-34 year-old cohort rose to an 11-week high. It gained among all other age groups except those 45 to 54 years old.
Sentiment among wage earners making $25,000 to $40,000 was the strongest since November 2006. Confidence was also higher among those with incomes greater than $50,000.
Renters were more optimistic last week than at any time since August 2007. Republicans were the most upbeat since April 2008, narrowing the gap with Democratic voters to the smallest since late January.
The Bloomberg Comfort Index has been presented on a scale of zero to 100 since May 2014, rather than the previous minus 100 to 100, with the midpoint shifting to 50 from zero. The change is also reflected in the gauge’s components. It doesn’t affect the measures’ relationship to each other or their correlation with other economic indicators. Historical data has been revised and analysis of trends, values and other variables also aren’t affected.