[WASHINGTON] Consumer confidence declined to a five-week low as Americans grew even more downbeat about the prospects for the economy.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index retreated to 42.4 in the period ended July 19 from 43.2. The gauge has fallen throughout July, surrendering a portion of the 3.9-point advance in the last three weeks of June.
"These trends put consumer sentiment in an up-and-down- pattern," Gary Langer, president of Langer Research Associates LLC in New York, which produces the data for Bloomberg, said in a statement. While the gauge is holding above its average of 41.7 since 1985, sentiment is "not robust enough to break through to the next level and hold it."
This pattern coincides with other mixed economic reports in the past month. Among recent data, existing-home sales climbed to an eight-year high in June and retail sales unexpectedly declined. While employers are adding workers, wage growth remains limited.
The measure of consumers' views on the current state of the economy declined to 32.2, the second-lowest reading since early December, from 33.3 the week prior.
The index of personal finances was little changed at 57.8 from 58 the week before. The buying climate gauge, which measures whether now is a good time to purchase goods and services, decreased to 37.2 from 38.2.
Confidence weakened in five of the seven major income groups last week, Thursday's report showed. Sentiment among those making more than US$100,000 was the lowest in six weeks, probably a reflection of recent volatility in the stock market.
By region, comfort in the Midwest dropped by the most since the end of April. Sentiment was also weaker in the West and Northeast.
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.