Wednesday 24 January 2018

Consumer confidence 'better than expected'

Charlie Weston

CONSUMER confidence was unchanged in May, despite turmoil in global equity and bond markets.

The consumer sentiment index, compiled by KBC Bank and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), fell to 65.3 from 65.6 in April.

In March the index rose to its strongest level in two years.

The ESRI's David Duffy said the part of the index that measures how people view current conditions fell slightly, while the part of the index measuring consumer expectations in the coming months was unchanged.

"Last month's reading is probably a little better than might have been expected given the turmoil on global financial markets and the revelation that Ireland had the largest budget deficit in the EU in 2009," said Dr Duffy.

He said that while there was some improvement in consumers' perception of the outlook for the economy and the labour market, consumers were still concerned about the outlook for their own finances over the next 12 months.

Consumers were also cautious in their spending plans, the survey shows.

KBC Bank economist Austin Hughes said it was "slightly surprising" the index did not fall further due to turmoil on global markets and continuing concerns about public finances.

He said consumers remained cautious, but the underlying trend suggested they were seeing some signs that the economy was stabilising.

"The broadly steady reading for May contrasts with a much gloomier mood among consumers in most European countries."

Irish Independent

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