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Consumers more optimistic

Householders feel a little happier about their financial situation.

New figures show consumer sentiment rose fractionally in April because consumers are slightly more comfortable with their lot.

The KBC Bank/ESRI consumer sentiment index rose for the third month in four, though it was still below the high point the index hit in January.

KBC Bank's Austin Hughes said both elements of the sentiment survey that relate to trends in personal fin- ances had improved in April.

"Our sense is that this may be driven by the combination of negative consumer price inflation that is boosting purchasing power and significant house price inflation that is encouraging a positive 'wealth effect' for many households," he said.

Mr Hughes said sentiment during the rest of the year could be increasingly influenced by consumers' perceptions as to how attractive or affordable various pre-election policy proposals may be.