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Consumers' Sentiment at Highest Since Recession Started
NEW YORK (1/3/14)--Consumers' outlook was at a post-recession high throughout 2013, according to a prominent measurement.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index averaged -31.4 for last year--the highest it has been since 2007, when it was at -10.5. The research and analysis firm attributed the rosier views to an improved job market, and higher home prices and stock values (Bloomberg.com Jan. 2).

The report, published Thursday, noted that the index declined for the week ending Dec. 29, falling to -28.7 from 27.4. All three components of the index fell--measures of personal finances, current economic conditions and the buying climate dropped to 4.1, -57.1 and -33.2 from 6.4, -56.8 and -31.8 respectively.

While Bloomberg analysts noted that average measures of the buying climate and personal finance were higher in 2013 than 2012--by 4.7 points and 1.2 points--they also said that the latest weekly measure of current economic conditions is 25.7 points below its long-term average.

The overall index was up almost 7 points in 2013. Its year-end drop was the first since early November (Economy.com Jan. 2).  Bloomberg attributed the decline to increase pessimism among homeowners, college graduates, Democrats and full-time workers. The dip applied to all income cohorts, except respondents making between $40,000 and $50,000.

Broken down by census division, consumers' outlook worsened most dramatically in the Northeast--by 8.9 points. The index declined in the West, South, and Midwest by 0.1 points, 0.3 points, and 1.7 points.

Moody's said that the weekly decline could be attributed to the end of the holiday season and household budgetary anxieties.

The research and ratings firm also predicted that confidence will grow in 2014, boosted by an improving labor market and increasing consumer spending. Moody's analysts are predicting that unemployment in December will fall below 7%, but said that a one-week drop isn't significant, with the measurement calculated on a 4-week moving average.


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