Economic Sentiment Continues To Improve Ahead Of The New Year
Consumer economic sentiment continued its recovery for a second straight reading as lawmakers passed a new COVID-19 relief bill and Americans enjoy a modified holiday season. The latest reading of the HPS-CivicScience Economic Sentiment Index (ESI) showed an increase of 1.2 points to 46.9, led by a 3.4-point jump in confidence in the broader economy.
Four of the five individual indicators improved during the two-week reading period. The largest increase was in confidence in the broader economy, whose 3.4-point jump represents the biggest improvement in the indicator since September 2020. Confidence in personal finances and the labor market also experienced a substantial increase, improving by 2.8 and 2.4 points, respectively. Confidence in the housing market also moved up by 1.7 points to reach 49.3. In contrast, on the heels of the holiday shopping season, confidence in making a major purchase dropped by 4.1 points—the largest drop in the indicator since the start of the pandemic in March.
The steady improvement in confidence over the past two weeks comes as Congress passed a long-awaited and much-debated $900B relief bill, and as health care workers, senior citizens, and others receive the initial wave of Moderna and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines. Still, several areas of the U.S. are grappling with a post-Thanksgiving coronavirus surge and facing potential re-implementation of restrictions to minimize the spread. As the effects of the pandemic continue to hit pocketbooks, consumer spending by way of holiday shopping is expected to be weaker this year.
The ESI’s three-day moving average held relatively steady over the past two weeks, beginning at 45.6 before dropping to a low of 45.5 on December 14. The moving average peaked at 48.4 on December 18, and subsequently dropped back down to close out the reading at 46.3 on December 22.
The next release of the ESI will be on Wednesday, January 6, 2021.