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Consumer comfort in U.S. cools after reaching 9-week high

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(Bloomberg) — Consumer confidence in the U.S. eased last week from its highest level since the end of April, reflecting subdued views of the economy and buying climate.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index decreased to 43.5 in the period ended July 5 after rising to 44 in the prior week. In June, the gauge recouped half of its 7.8 point decline from an eight-year high in early April.

“Consumer sentiment flattened this week after a three-week advance, perhaps reflecting concerns about global economic stability,” Gary Langer, president of Langer Research Associates LLC in New York, which produces the data for Bloomberg, said in a statement.

Sentiment among Americans earning more than $100,000 a year fell last week by the most since mid-May, which coincides with falling equity values tied to turmoil in Greece and a stock- market rout in China. At the same time, stable prices at the gas pump helped bolster households’ assessments of their finances.

The gauge of personal finances climbed to 59.3, the fifth straight weekly gain and the highest since early April, from 58.6.

Continued improvements in the labor market help explain the increase. The number of job vacancies rose to a record 5.36 million in May, exceeding hiring for only the second time ever, Labor Departmentdata showed Tuesday.

Employers added 223,000 jobs in June after a 254,000 increase in May, the strongest two months since the end of 2014, while the jobless rate fell to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent.

The comfort index’s buying climate index, which measures whether now is a good time to purchase goods and services, retreated to 37.7 from 38.9. It gained 5.4 points in the prior three weeks.

Economy Views

A measure of consumers’ views on the current state of the economy declined to 33.4 from 34.6.

Sentiment among Americans who earn more than $100,000 a year fell last week from its highest level since early May as recent stock market volatility stemming from concerns over the Greek debt crisis affected attitudes.

By region, comfort declined in the Midwest for the first time in four weeks. Sentiment also dropped in the West and was little changed in the South. Consumer confidence in the Northeast increased for a third week.

The Bloomberg Comfort Index, presented on a scale of zero to 100, is a four-week rolling average and based on a national sample of 1,000 adults. The report’s gauges have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 points.


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