14 Jul 2016

Spending eases back to average

5:48 pm on 14 July 2016

Consumer confidence has remained upbeat but restrained amid a buoyant labour market and rising house prices.

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The monthly ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Index has edged down by less than a point to 118.2, which was in line with its historical average.

A reading over 100 indicates optimism.

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said sentiment was being guided by New Zealand's growing economy, rather than events overseas.

"Life still goes on for consumers amidst international shenanigans," ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie said.

He says employment is strong and firms are finding it hard to get the right staff, while surging house prices were also boosting sentiment.

ANZ's composite index, which combines its business and consumer confidence surveys, indicates growth is accelerating towards 4 percent.

The survey showed little change from the previous month, with a net 9 percent of respondents optimistic about their own financial health, and a net 29 percent upbeat for the longer term outlook.

An unchanged net 36 percent believed it was a good time to buy a big ticket item.

"Consumers are 'free wheelin'. There is a lot to smile about. The labour market is improving. Job ads have risen now for five consecutive months. Skill shortages are becoming more of an issue for businesses. Both bode well for the final piece of the labour market puzzle, namely wages, to start moving up," Mr Bagrie said.

"House price expectations continue to lift - another traditional positive factor for sentiment - hitting another new high."

ANZ's composite index, which combines its business and consumer confidence surveys, indicates growth is accelerating towards 4 percent.

Mr Bagrie said the mix of growth is tending toward borrowing and spending, which is not sustainable in the long term.

There was clearly exuberant growth in housing and credit, but a more restrained consumer sentiment suggested caution and moderation would be sensible, he said.

House price expectations increased to a new high of 6.1 percent, while inflation expectations eased from 3.8 percent to 3.3 percent.

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