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US consumer comfort drops to six-month low on finances concern

[WASHINGTON] A gauge of US consumer sentiment dropped last week to a six-month low as Americans' ratings of their personal finances returned to levels not seen since the initial months of the pandemic.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell by 1.2 points to 43.2 points, data released Thursday showed. The eighth-straight decline left the measure down 6.6 points since mid-November, the largest setback since the pandemic-related shutdowns.

Americans' assessments of their personal finances slumped another 2.2 points last week, to 55.9, the lowest since late May. A gauge of current views about the economy and the buying climate also eased from the prior week.

The national economy subindex slipped 0.3 point to 33.7, the lowest since early July, despite a US$900 billion coronavirus relief package signed by President Donald Trump on Dec 27, which included US$600 stimulus cheques for individuals and extended unemployment benefits through March. The consumer comfort results are based on a four-week rolling average.

A gauge of attitudes about buying climate fell 1.1 points to 40, the lowest since Oct 25 and a reflection of increased restrictions on economic activity amid a surge in coronavirus infections.

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Thursday's report, reflecting interviews completed Jan 10, followed the siege on the US Capitol, Democrats winning both of Georgia's runoff elections and the virus continuing to spread at record rates. Comfort declined most last week among Republicans, the report showed.

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