By Shobhana Chandra, Mike Dorning and Elizabeth Dexheimer
WASHINGTON - Chris Creech, a website consultant from Chapel Hill, N.C., said he’s feeling good enough about his job security and the economy to make an offer to buy his first home.
With sales rising at his employer, which develops websites for small businesses, “I feel a little more free to spend money instead of worrying about, ‘Will I have a job?’ ” said Creech, who is 24.
Creech’s optimism is reflected in surveys of confidence such as the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, which showed that Americans’ view of the economic outlook climbed to a four-month high in September. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary sentiment index rose in September to the second- highest level in five years.
Improving consumer moods bolster President Barack Obama’s re-election prospects in a campaign that has been largely fought on economic issues, said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center in Washington.
“If the public feels better about the economy, they’re going to feel better about Barack Obama,” Kohut said.
A survey by the Pew center conducted Sept. 12-16 showed Obama with a 51 percent to 43 percent lead over Republican Mitt Romney among likely voters, a bigger September gap than the last three candidates who went on to win in November. The survey of 2,192 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
A Sept. 11-17 USA Today/Gallup poll of registered voters in the swing states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, put Obama ahead by two points, 48 percent to 46 percent.
Among the reasons for the improvement in confidence are rising stocks and property values, which boost household wealth.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is up 16 percent this year, and in the week ended Sept. 14 the gauge reached its highest level since December 2007. Home prices in the second quarter rose by 2.2 percent from the previous three months, the best performance since the fourth quarter of 2005, according to S&P/Case-Shiller data.
Shares fell today as declines in business confidence in Germany and China added to concern of a global economic slowdown. The S&P 500 Index dropped 0.4 percent to 1,454.46 at 9:45 a.m. in New York.