Confidence among American consumers rose last week for the first time this year, Bloomberg reported.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index climbed to minus 36.3 in the week ended Feb. 3, up from a reading of minus 37.5, which was the weakest since early October.
A strengthening job market and higher stock prices seem to be helping confidence after households absorbed a two percentage point increase in the levy that funds Social Security. Climbing gasoline costs, though, may prevent consumers from building on a fourth-quarter rise in spending.
The index ranges from 100, indicating all survey participants were had a positive response to all index components, to negative 100, indicating all views were negative.
That report is released as the U.S. Department of Labor announced that applications for jobless benefits dropped by 5,000 to 366,000 in the week ended Feb. 2. Economists had forecast 360,000 claims.