14 Dec 2012

Unemployment hits confidence - survey

9:35 am on 14 December 2012

High unemployment appears to have checked consumer confidence.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index rose less than a point to 115 in December. A reading above 100 indicates optimism.

Survey respondents were slightly more pessimistic about their own current financial position, but more confident they would be better off in the coming year.

ANZ said the survey suggests consumer caution is being driven by the lack of growth in jobs.

Separately, a drop in the proportion of bad loans, higher margins and lower borrowing costs have lifted profitability among finance firms.

Financial consultancy KPMG's latest Financial Institution Performance Survey shows overall profit rose by 14% to $235 million this year.

Profit more than doubled to $30 million among the nine savings firms, which are mainly credit unions.

KPMG's head of financial services John Kensington says the total of 16 firms left in the industry managed to survive the global financial crisis which began in 2008.

"Margins are as strong as they have ever been, their credit quality and their 'book' is as strong as it has ever been ... as a whole, they have actually done very well."