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Australian consumer confidence up 8.1 pct in September

09-14-2011 11:12 BJT

SYDNEY, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Australia's consumer confidence rebounded strongly in September, a survey by Westpac Banking Corp and the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research showed on Wednesday.

After falling to its lowest level in more than two years in August, the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment rose by 8.1 percent in September to 96.9.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said a strong recovery in economic growth in the June quarter and a more relaxed outlook on interest rates were likely behind the surprise increase.

Despite the rise, the index remains at a weak level overall and is 14.4 percent below its reading a year ago.

The September reading was below the neutral mark of 100, meaning the number of pessimists now outweighs the number of optimists, for only the third time since May 2009.

"Concrete evidence of the improved outlook for interest rates came shortly after the August survey when the major banks actually lowered their fixed rate mortgage rates," Evans said.

However, Evans said respondents remained extremely concerned about the outlook for their own finances.

The component measuring how respondents expect their financial position to change over the next 12 months remains weaker than at any time since July 2008.

"Confirmation of steady rates, with no threats to raise rates, is likely to calm those households who still fear rate hikes," he said.

"However, given ongoing uncertainty around the global economy and signs of deterioration in the labor market ... we suspect that steady rates will not be enough to restore the consumer to normal levels of confidence."

 

Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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