Bloomberg by the Numbers: -32.5

Photograph by Jennifer Whitney/Bloomberg

Shoppers at an outdoor mall in San Antonio, Texas.

That’s the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index average this year, the highest since 2007.

The weekly gauge can range from 100 to minus 100 and is based on Americans’ views about the national economy, their personal finances and the buying climate.

The index was minus 29.4 in the week ended June 16, up from minus 31.3 in the previous period. It’s the eighth time in the past 10 weeks that the index was above minus 30, moving into what Langer Research Associates, which produces the index for Bloomberg News, calls the “recovery zone.”

The index was minus 10.5 on average in 2007, falling to minus 42.2 in 2008 and minus 47.9 in 2009 as the economy was in deep recession. The index was minus 45.7 in 2010 and minus 46.8 in 2011, then fell to minus 38.1 in 2012, when President Barack Obama was re-elected.

In last week’s index, about 24 percent of Americans rated the national economy positively, the most since January 2008.

Sales of previously owned homes rose 4.2 percent in May to a 5.18 million annualized rate, the most since November 2009, according to figures released yesterday by the National Association of Realtors and analyzed by Bloomberg’s Jeanna Smialek and Lorraine Woellert in this story.

“Higher home values and stock prices are helping rebuild consumers’ confidence, which reached a five-year high at the end of April,” Bloomberg’s Alexandria Baca reported yesterday. “At the same time, a surge in interest rates as Federal Reserve policy makers say an improving economy will trigger smaller bond purchases later this year has the potential to limit further progress.”

Last week’s Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index underscored how many Americans are viewing the economy through a partisan lens. The index for Democrats was minus 11.8, the highest since 2001, compared to minus 30.5 for Republicans, the highest among that group in more than a year, Langer Research Associates said in a written analysis. The index historically has been higher among Republicans than Democrats, though the Democratic reading has been higher for a record 65 straight weeks.

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