The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Community News Network

November 21, 2013

Consumers' outlook improves after two-year low

WASHINGTON — American consumers became less pessimistic in November about the economic outlook as the effect of last month's partial government shutdown dissipated.

The gap between positive and negative expectations for the economy shrank to minus 14 from a two-year low of minus 31 in October, according to data from the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index released Thursday. The weekly measure of sentiment fell to minus 34.6 in the period ended Nov. 17 from minus 33.9.

Increased wealth from higher stock and home prices, cheaper gasoline and more employment opportunities are providing households with the means to boost purchases. A pickup in wage growth would provide an additional spark for spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

"Consumer sentiment has essentially reset compared to where it was prior to the government shutdown, which should assuage fears of a complete disaster during the holiday shopping season," said Joseph Brusuelas, a senior economist for Bloomberg LP in New York. Without bigger gains in wages, "it will be difficult for consumers to support spending beyond the modest levels observed in the third quarter."

The monthly expectations survey showed 23 percent of respondents said the economy was getting better, compared with 16 percent, the fewest in two years, who said so a month earlier. The share of those who said it's getting worse declined by 10 percentage points to 37 percent.

Two of the Bloomberg weekly gauge's three components weakened. The index of personal finances decreased to minus 2.1, the fifth negative reading in six weeks, from zero the prior week.

A gauge of Americans' view of current economic conditions fell to minus 63.7 from minus 62.5 the week before.

The buying-climate barometer rose to a five-week high of minus 38.2, as more households indicated that now is the time to make purchases. The gain may have reflected cheaper prices at the pump. A gallon of regular gasoline dropped to $3.18 on Nov. 11, the lowest level since February 2011, according to AAA, the biggest U.S. auto group.

Sales growth in categories like flooring and kitchens "reflects an emerging willingness among consumers to finally replace items that are worn or outdated, or to make significant enhancements to their homes," Lowe's Cos. Chief Executive Officer Robert Niblock said on an earnings call Wednesday.

Retail sales climbed in October by the most in three months, a report yesterday showed. The 0.4 percent increase exceeded the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

To build on the October gains, some retailers such as Best Buy Co. said they will have to rely on discounting to lure customers. Best Buy will face an "increasingly promotional environment" in the fourth quarter as it plans to match rivals' online prices this holiday-shopping season, Chief Financial Officer Sharon McCollam said Nov. 19.

Thursday's figures continued to show a divergence in attitudes between the highest- and lowest-earning groups. The sentiment reading for those making $100,000 or more a year increased to 17.3, while it was minus 51.4 for those with incomes less than $50,000.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, compiled by Langer Research Associates in New York, conducts telephone surveys with a random sample of 1,000 consumers ages 18 and older. Each week, 250 respondents are asked for their views on the U.S. economy, personal finances and buying climate. The margin of error for the headline figure is 3 percentage points.

The percentage of negative responses is subtracted from the share of positive views and divided by three. The most recent reading is based on the average of responses over the previous four weeks.

The comfort index can range from 100, indicating every participant in the survey had a positive response to all three components, to minus 100, signaling all views were negative.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • When your doctor commits suicide, things get complicated

    When they call for appointments, patients are told they can't see their doctor. Ever. The standard line: "We are sorry, but your doctor died suddenly."

    July 15, 2014

  • NWS-HB0713-HowardMartin-004.jpg Airman laid to rest back home in Indiana six decades after death

    The mystery of what happened to a military transport plane that disappeared in the fall of 1952 into an Alaskan glacier was solved two years ago when a helicopter crew spotted the wreckage. But it took another two years to retrieve the remains of Airman Howard Miller and 16 other servicemen passengers. Saturday, Miller was laid to rest in his hometown of Elwood, Ind., with full military honors. Hundreds turned out for the funeral and burial services.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps

     I climbed the ladder quickly, free to work any hours in any location for any pay. I moved from market to market, always achieving a better title, a better salary. Succeeding.

    July 8, 2014

  • Nation's first soda tax could come to Berkeley

    The Berkeley City Council unanimously decided last week to put the 1-cent-per-ounce tax on the ballot this November. Approving the tax would mean a major defeat for the soda industry, which has spent millions to crush the effort nationwide.

    July 7, 2014

  • President Barack Obama mug Best president? Worst president? Don't read too much into those polls

    The questions about who are the best and worst post-WWII presidents are useless. What they mainly show is that Republicans are far more unified around a single story than are Democrats.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • What states can do on their own about immigration

    It's official: Congress won't take up immigration reform this year. This week, President Barack Obama said he'll use executive actions to change policies unilaterally.

    July 1, 2014

  • The Internet has changed how we curse

    Relatively recent technologies — cable television, satellite radio, and social media — provide us with a not-too-unrealistic picture of how often people swear in public and what they say when they do.

    June 24, 2014

  • May 2014 was the hottest may in recorded history

    According to new data released this week, May 2014 is officially the warmest May in recorded history.
    Both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency have tentatively ranked May at the top of historical measurements, though NASA's numbers are preliminary because crucial information is still missing from China.

    June 18, 2014

  • facebook.png Facebook making big changes to its advertisements

    Facebook is making significant changes to the advertisements on its network, and said Thursday that it will give users more control over which ads they see on its network.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

What are your plans for the weekend?

Enjoying the outdoors
Staying in out of the heat
Traveling
Other
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.