Australia consumer sentiment flatlines in March-survey


SYDNEY, March 14 (Reuters) - A measure of Australian consumer sentiment inched fractionally higher in March as some improvement in the state of family finances just managed to offset concerns about the long-run economic outlook.

A Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank survey of 1,200 people published on Wednesday said its index of consumer sentiment rose 0.2 percent in March from February when it fell 2.3 percent.

The index was up 3.3 percent on February last year at 103.0, meaning optimists just outnumbered pessimists.

"That followed a year in which pessimism dominated. However, the index is still well below levels typically associated with a robust consumer."

Sluggish wage growth, rising living costs and high levels of household debt have been weighing on the consumer mood, offsetting broad-based strength in employment.

The survey's barometer of economic conditions over the next 12 months bounced 1.7 percent in March, but the outlook for the next five years dropped 4.1 percent.

Hassan noted recent news coverage of U.S. President Donald Trump's placing of tariffs on imported steel and aluminium may have caused some jitters.

The most notable shift in news recalled by respondents was around 'international conditions' which had the highest recall in 2 1/2 years and was viewed as significantly more negative than in December.

The measure of family finances compared to a year ago added 2.4 percent, while the outlook for the next 12 months rose 2.1 percent.

Yet consumers seemed reluctant to spend freely, with the index of whether it was a good time to buy a major household item down 0.5 percent.

The index on whether it was good time to buy a dwelling rose by 0.8 percent, to be up 5.0 percent on a year ago.

This article appears in: Stocks , World Markets , Politics
Referenced Symbols: WBC

More from Reuters


See Reuters News

Research Brokers before you trade

Want to trade FX?