Economic pessimism lifted somewhat over the past month, but Americans' views of the near-term outlook for the U.S. economy remained modestly negative, the November IBD/TIPP Poll finds. The soft reading came despite a phase-one China trade deal announced by President Trump and a record high for the S&P 500. The Dow Jones and Nasdaq composite hit new records just after polling wrapped up.
The gauge of the six-month economic outlook climbed 3.5 points to 47. Readings below the neutral 50 level reflect pessimism.
The broader IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index rose 0.3 point to a modestly optimistic 52.9. Among self-described investors, optimism fell 3.3 points to 50.2, the lowest since September 2016.
Economic Optimism Index Components
The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index is a composite of three major subindexes. They track views of near-term prospects for the U.S. economy, the outlook for personal finances, and views of how well government economic policies are working.
The six-month outlook gauge for the U.S. economy is still 10.5 points below the 13-year high of 57.5 in February 2018 that came on the heels of tax cuts. The index registered 32.1 in December 2007 as the economy entered recession.
The personal finances subindex rose 1.1 points to 61.7, strongly optimistic. The index launched in 2001 hit a record 66.7 in October 2018 before financial markets hit turbulence late last year.
The federal policies subindex slipped 3.5 points to 50.1, the lowest since February. The 55.6 reading in May — just before Trump blew up the first China trade war cease-fire — was the highest since April 2003.
Confidence In Trump Sags
The November IBD/TIPP Poll showed 44% of Americans approved of Trump's handling of the economy, down from 48% the prior month. The drop came despite Trump's announcement that an interim China trade deal was all but in the bag. At the least, the deal will put further tariffs on hold and prompt Beijing to step up purchases of U.S. agricultural goods. Still, just 37% backed Trump's China trade policy, down from 39% in October, while 49% disapproved.
The drop in support for Trump's economic policies came as his overall job approval rating fell to 39% from 43%, perhaps a side-effect from the Democrats' impeachment probe.
The IBD/TIPP Poll reflects responses from 903 adults contacted via mobile phones and landlines from Oct. 24-31 and carries a 3.3-point margin of error.
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