SYDNEY, April 9 A measure of Australian consumer
sentiment inched higher for the first time in five months in
April as households became more optimistic on the near-term
outlook for both the economy and their own finances.
The survey of 1,200 people by the Melbourne Institute and
Westpac Bank showed the index of consumer sentiment
rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in April from March, when
it fell 0.7 percent.
The index reading of 99.7 was down 4.9 percent on April last
year, but that was an improvement on March when it was down
10.0 percent. A reading below 100 means pessimists still exceed
While modest, the improvement does suggest sentiment has
stabilised after a run of negative news on manufacturing job
losses in recent weeks.
The survey showed consumers were a little less worried about
keeping their jobs, with expectations of unemployment falling by
Respondents were more upbeat on the outlook for the economy
over the next 12 months, with that index jumping 10.5 percent in
April, from March.
Measures of family finances compared to a year ago improved
by 6.7 percent, while the outlook for finances over the next 12
months rose 2.2 percent.
In contrast the outlook for the economy over the next five
years slipped a further 4.2 percent. An index of whether it was
a good or bad time to buy a major household item also slipped
8.7 percent in April.
The index tracking views on whether it was time to buy a
dwelling fell by 3.9 percent, perhaps because sharply rising
prices are making homes less affordable.
(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)