U.S. consumer sentiment rises despite Ebola fears
By Jason Lange
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - While the appearance of the deadly Ebola virus in Texas is worrying the nation, it has yet to lead Americans to take a more cautious view over how to spend their money, data suggested on Friday.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment unexpectedly rose in early October to its highest level since July 2007.
Separate data showed groundbreaking for new homes rose more than expected last month, and taken together the reports pointed to solid U.S. economic growth.
"The underlying strength of the U.S. economy remains intact," said David Berson, an economist at Nationwide Mutual Insurance in Columbus, Ohio. "If it were not for Ebola and geopolitical concerns, these (sentiment) numbers would be higher."
The data for the sentiment survey was collected between Sept. 25 and Oct. 15, a period in which Americans have been barraged by news of Ebola's spread in West Africa, where it has killed thousands, and its appearance in the United States.
U.S. officials have confirmed three Ebola cases, all in Dallas, since Sept. 30 - a Liberian man who later died of the disease and two nurses who had cared for him and are now being treated.
Investors have been concerned that Ebola, if not contained in the United States, could scare consumers and lead them to cut back on spending, though there is little sign of that so far.
The consumer sentiment survey period also overlapped with the global stock market sell-off earlier this week. Continued...