(Bloomberg) — Consumer sentiment in the U.S. climbed last week to the highest level since December 2007 as Americans grew more upbeat about the state of the economy, their financial well-being and the buying climate.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index advanced to 40.7 from 38.5 for the period ended Nov. 23, according to a report today. All three components improved last week, with the gauge of views on whether it’s a good time to shop rising to a seven-year high.
Labor market gains, record stock values and gas prices at four-year lows are boosting household sentiment in time for the holiday-shopping season. Fatter paychecks for lower-income earners would help households across all income brackets to make more purchases.
The recent improvement in confidence is “an indication, just in time for the holiday-shopping season, that consumers at last are feeling some impacts of economic recovery,” Gary Langer, president of Langer Research Associates LLC in New York, which produces the data for Bloomberg, said in a statement. It “offers hope to retailers heading into the holidays.”
Today’s sentiment report showed the buying-climate measure, which asks whether this is a good time to purchase goods and services, increased to 35.1, the highest since November 2007, before the last recession began, from 32.8 the prior period.
The gauge of personal finances advanced to 56.1, the highest since April 2008, from 54.4. Bloomberg’s weekly measure about the state of the economy climbed to 30.9, the highest since January 2008, from 28.2 the prior week.
Americans are finding relief at the gas pump. The nationwide average for a gallon of fuel at the pump was $2.81 on Nov. 24, the lowest in more than four years, according to AAA, the largest U.S. auto group.