Canada consumer confidence near 13-yr low: survey

A pedestrian walks past a Tim Hortons restaurant in Toronto October 26, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian consumer confidence slumped to its lowest level in nearly 13 years in June due to the surge in gasoline prices and concern about future economic conditions, the Conference Board of Canada said on Monday.

The board’s index of consumer confidence dropped 6.2 points in June to 79.6, its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 1995. The results are based on 2,000 telephone interviews conducted in early June.

The survey said Canadians have become increasingly wary about making major purchases such as a car or house. The number of respondents who said now is not a good time to make a major purchase rose 6.1 percentage points to 54.9 percent.

Asked if their families would be better off financially six months from now, 23.3 percent of respondents thought they would be, down from 26.1 percent in May. About 21.9 percent thought they would be worse off, up from 17.1 percent a month earlier.

The survey also said 15.2 percent of respondents felt there would be more jobs in their community in six months, down from 17.4 percent. But those who believed there would be fewer jobs in six months dropped to 25.3 percent from 26.7 percent in the May survey.

Every region of the country saw waning levels of confidence, with the largest decline in British Columbia, where the index fell to its lowest level since mid-2003.

The Bank of Canada went against widespread expectations for an interest rate cut in June and instead held its key overnight rate steady because of the threat of higher inflation.

The central bank’s Business Outlook Survey released earlier on Monday pointed to increased inflationary risks to the economy, which some market participants felt increased the likelihood of a rate hike in early 2009.

Reporting by Frank Pingue; editing by Rob Wilson