Australian consumer sentiment falls in September - survey

Credit: REUTERS/DANIEL MUNOZ

Australian consumers turned pessimistic in September despite signs of revival in the housing market as concerns about the near-term economic outlook weighed, according to one confidence gauge.

SYDNEY, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Australian consumers turned pessimistic in September despite signs of revival in the housing market as concerns about the near-term economic outlook weighed, according to one confidence gauge.

Wednesday's survey showed the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank WBC.AX index of consumer sentiment slipped 1.7% in September, after gaining 3.6% in August.

The index was down 2.3% from a year earlier, and at 98.2 indicated pessimists outnumbered optimists.

The survey of 1,200 people will be a disappointment for the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which cut interest rates in both June and July in part to support consumer demand.

The survey's index of economic conditions for the next 12 months fell 3.1%.

Respondents were also less upbeat on their own circumstances. A measure of the state of family finances compared with a year ago eased 2.5%, while the outlook for the next 12 months fell 2.2%.

In a negative sign for retail sales, a measure of whether it was a good time to buy a major household item fell 2.8%, reversing last month's gains.

The "time to buy a dwelling" index declined 2.9% from August thought it was up 19% from a year ago, with Sydney and Melbourne leading the recovery in the residential property market after two years of weakness.

House prices in the two cities have stabilised in the last couple of months, with demand at auctions improving markedly. Data out earlier this week showed mortgage approvals jumped in July.

(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Kim Coghill)

((swati.pandey@thomsonreuters.com; +61 2 9321 8166; Reuters Messaging: swati.pandey.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net; twitter.com/swatisays))

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