Jan 18, 2017
Australia consumer sentiment flat in January
Jan 18, 2017
A measure of Australia's consumer sentiment barely budged in January as pessimists continued to outnumber optimists even as people thought it was a good time to splash out on big-ticket items, a survey showed on Wednesday.
Wednesday's survey of 1,200 people from the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank found consumer sentiment edged up just 0.1 percent in January, failing to recover much from December's 3.4 percent drop.
That left the index at 97.4, a meagre 0.2 percent higher than in January last year.
"The absence of a rebound in January is a disappointing result, particularly when one factors in the cumulative 10 percent gain for Australian equities over the past two months and, to a lesser extent, a nascent improvement in the pace of job creation," said Westpac senior economist, Elliot Clarke.
He thought there could be a lingering drag from news in December that the economy shrank by 0.5 percent in the third quarter, the first contraction since 2011.
A weekly survey of consumers from ANZ and Roy Morgan has shown a rebound in sentiment at the start of the year, but that was not replicated in the Westpac poll.
The sub-indices in the Westpac survey were also very erratic in January.
The measure of family finances compared to a year ago dropped a sharp 7.6 percent, but that for family finances over the next 12 months rose 0.3 percent.
Expectations for the economic outlook over the next 12 months bounced 2.5 percent, but the assessment of economic conditions for the next five years fell 1.4 percent.
One bright spot for retailers was the measure of whether this was a good time to buy major household items which rebounded by 4.9 percent in January.
By demographics, all the weakness came in those who rented their homes, while sentiment for those with mortgages or who owned outright rose sharply.
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