US consumer comfort tumbles to lowest point since July as COVID-19 surge cuts further into recovery optimism

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  • The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index dropped 1.2 points to 43.2 in the week ended January 10 according to data released Thursday.
  • The reading marks the lowest level since July and extends a streak of declines into its eighth week.
  • A gauge tracking Americans’ views of their finances slid to 55.9 from 58.1, its lowest since late May.
  • The gauge’s downtrend comes after rioters violently stormed the Capitol, COVID-19 cases continued to surge, and Democrats’ victories in Georgia runoffs won the party control of the Senate.
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A popular measure of US consumer confidence slipped last week as the COVID-19 pandemic and the slowing pace of recovery dragged on Americans’ finances.

Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort Index dropped to 43.2 from 44.4 for the week that ended January 10, according to data published Thursday. The reading is the lowest since July and marks the index’s eighth consecutive decline.

A gauge tracking Americans’ views of their finances sank to 55.9 from 58.1, its lowest since late May. The survey includes responses from after insurrectionists violently stormed the Capitol and Democrats won Senate runoffs in Georgia.


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Soaring COVID-19 cases also weighed on sentiments throughout the week. Several days saw record new case counts, while total deaths surpassed 360,000, according to The COVID Tracking Project. Measures of the current buying climate and the state of the overall economy worsened amid the rising cases and prolonged economic restrictions.

The index joins several other indicators signalling the pace of recovery moderated at the start of the new year. New filings for unemployment benefits in the US leaped to an unadjusted 965,000 for the week that ended Saturday, according to Labour Department data released Thursday morning. The sum comes in well above the 800,000 filings expected by economists and exceeds the previous week’s revised reading of 784,000.

Economic data could improve in the coming weeks as stimulus passed at the end of 2020 reaches Americans. President Donald Trump approved a $US900 billion relief package on December 27 after months of deliberation over additional fiscal support. The measure includes $US600 direct payments, an extension to federal unemployment benefits, and funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.


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