Consumer confidence still at 7-year low

A swathe of gloomy global headlines appear to have further dampened consumers' outlook about the economy but they are feeling more upbeat about their own personal finances.

The Westpac MacDermott Miller Confidence index eased 0.4 points to 103.1 in the September quarter, after a similar fall in the previous three month period.

While a reading over 100 favours optimism, the fall takes confidence levels to their lowest since 2012 and is a continuation of the declines seen over the past two years.

"The fall in consumer confidence comes atop a more general deterioration in the economic landscape.

"Since our last survey there have been a wave of negative headlines about conditions in the global economy," said Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod.

Reports of weakness in the business sector and ongoing softness in the housing market were also likely to be factors.

"Against this backdrop, it's not surprising that households have grown increasingly pessimistic about where the economy is heading over the next few years," he said.

Households appeared to be more confident about their own personal financial situation, with a greater number reporting they are better off financially than a year ago, and more consumers feeling they would be in a better position in the coming year.

But Ranchhod said there was still a reluctance to spend on big ticket items which was likely to flow through to sluggish spending growth for the rest of 2019.

"The number of households who think now is a good time to purchase a major household item fell for a third quarter in a row and is now at its lowest level in two years."

He said it likely meant the Reserve Bank's half a percent cut in the Official Cash Rate had scared consumers more than it had encouraged them to spend.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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