Shopper sentiment up

THERE'S good news on the consumer front as sentiment rose for a fourth consecutive month in April.

The latest edition of the monthly consumer sentiment index -- jointly published by KBC Bank (Ireland) and the ESRI -- returned a reading of 62.5 points for last month, up from 60.6 points in March. It was the first time since early 2007 that a four-month stretch of index increases was seen.

However, the survey's authors say we are still cautious.

"The improvement in consumer sentiment doesn't appear to reflect a notably more positive view of current circumstances, but instead it seems consumers are notably less fearful about more extreme downside risks to the economic outlook," said KBC Ireland chief economist Austin Hughes.