Consumers’ outlook for U.S. economy plunges to two-year low

No Damage

Companies such as Santa Clara, California-based Intel Corp. say the government shutdown has not hurt their business so far. The world’s leading chipmaker reported third-quarter sales that exceeded estimates.

Regarding “the debt-ceiling debate, I’d say we have not seen any impact on our business,” Stacy Smith, Intel’s chief financial officer, said on an Oct. 15 earnings call. “I think generally the financial markets have been pretty tame in their reaction to this.”

Today’s confidence figures showed a decline among virtually every demographic group, including both sexes, all five age groups, blacks, whites and Hispanics, and all political leanings. The few exceptions included those with a household income between $25,000 and $39,999 and those living in the Northeast.

The comfort reading was positive only among the highest earners, with annual incomes greater than $100,000. For the broader category of those making at least $50,000 a year, confidence fell last week to the lowest level since March.

Renters Concerned

Sentiment among renters decreased to minus 49, the lowest in almost a year. Last week’s reading for blacks, minus 47, was the worst in more than a year.

The confidence gauge among political independents soured to minus 42.9 last week, weaker than either registered Republicans or Democrats, whose readings dropped to minus 25 and minus 26.6, respectively.

The worry for Abby Kral, 40, who lives in Washington and worked in the Senate until recently, is that a debt-ceiling compromise would be “only a short-term fix.”

“I feel like we always have a gun to our head, and we always figure it out,” Kral said. “But this time it feels a little different to me.”

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