21 Mar 2014

Consumer confidence still up

7:17 pm on 21 March 2014

Consumer confidence has remained buoyant, despite rising interest rates.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index was down 1 point to 132 in March, compared with the February. A reading above 100 indicates optimism.

Most consumers remain positive about their financial prospects in the year ahead, and consider it a good time to buy a major household item.

The bank's composite growth indicator, which combines its business and consumer confidence surveys, indicates the economy may grow by 6 percent this year.

But ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie says that's unlikely, as consumer spending isn't keeping pace with confidence.

He says a worrying trend would be if consumer spending was above the level of income growth and income generation needs to be the focus in New Zealand for the next couple of years.

A large proportion of responses came before last week's lift in interest rates and Mr Bagrie says it shouldn't dent sentiment too much.

He says there are other general support measures across the economy including asset prices still being reasonably buoyant and the labour market picking up.

Mr Bagrie says given that it's unlikely one marginal 25 basis point tweak to the official cash rate will cause consumer confidence to drop. He says if there are further interest rate hikes then the situation could well change.