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NZ consumers more upbeat about current situation

Consumer confidence was a touch higher in April as New Zealanders were more upbeat about their current finances.

The latest ANZ-Roy Morgan survey of consumer confidence rose 1.4 points to 123.2 in April, above the neutral 100 point level and around the historical average. 

Perceptions of current conditions rose 4.8 points to 129.8, the highest level since the beginning of the year. The future conditions index eased 0.9 of a point to 118.8. 

People's perceptions of their current financial situation rose 2 points to a net 14 percent feeling financially better off than a year ago. A net 30 percent of consumers expect to be better off financially this time next year, up 1 point. 

"Consumer confidence remains robust, holding onto a rebound from the lows of late-2018. The overall index remains around its historical average, defying housing market softness and global and domestic growth risks," said ANZ Bank chief economist Sharon Zollner. 

"Confidence about current conditions picked up sharply in April, and is flirting with post-GFC highs," something Zollner attributes to the strong labour market.  

The number of people who think it's a good time to buy a major household item rose eight points to a net 46 percent, which is supportive of household spending despite soft housing market activity, Zollner said.

She added, however, that caution around the economic outlook has kept confidence about future conditions a "little more subdued." 

ANZ’s composite index of both consumer and business sentiment "continues to suggest that momentum in the economy has slowed considerably, but the composite has stabilised and even started to lift off its lows," she said. 

The last ANZ business confidence survey showed the headline confidence index shed a further 7 points in March. A net 38 percent of respondents were pessimistic about general business conditions in the next 12 months. A net 6 percent expected their own businesses to improve, but that was down 5 points from February.

Zollner said the composite index was consistent with economic growth remaining subdued in the near-term, falling to 2 percent this year, before gradually building to 3 percent during the next few years. 

ANZ will release the April business confidence survey on Tuesday. 

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