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US consumer comfort hits 10-week low

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Consumer confidence among Americans slid to a 10-week low as views of the buying climate dimmed amid mounting virus fears.

[NEW YORK] Consumer confidence among Americans slid to a 10-week low as views of the buying climate dimmed amid mounting virus fears.

Bloomberg's Consumer Comfort Index fell to 63 in the week ended March 1 from 63.5, data showed Thursday. The component tracking whether it's a good time to spend sank to the lowest level since June while economic views were slightly weaker.

The buying climate index has slumped 6.8 points in the last five weeks, the steepest decline over a similar period since May 2015. While the coronavirus may be souring consumer attitudes about spending, the comfort reading for personal finances showed improvement despite the rout in US stocks.

Other measures of sentiment remain elevated. The University of Michigan's index posted its second-highest reading of the expansion in February, while the Conference Board's rose to a six-month high.

Sentiment, which has been buoyant in recent months amid low unemployment, will be one metric that policy makers track as they weigh additional interest-rate cuts. The Federal Reserve's emergency rate reduction this week may help underpin confidence as concern grows about the spread of the coronavirus.

BLOOMBERG