19 Jun 2017

Consumer confidence picks up but caution remains

12:55 pm on 19 June 2017

Consumer confidence has risen to its highest level in nearly two years on improved sentiment about the outlook for personal finances and the broader economy.

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Photo: 123RF

The Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Index gained 1.5 points to 113.4 in the past three months, after a slight dip in the first quarter.

A reading above 100 indicates more optimists than pessimists.

The survey showed consumers were marginally less upbeat about their current personal situation and the way the economy had been performing.

However, improving export prices and budget increases in support for low and middle income families were likely behind a more upbeat view of the next 12 months.

"Households expect that strengthening economic conditions will pass through to an improvement in their own financial position," said Westpac's acting chief economist, Michael Gordon.

The current caution was reflected by fewer people thinking now was a good time to buy a big ticket item.

The survey pointed to provincial and rural areas being buoyed by the bounce in commodity prices, such as dairy, while people in the big cities were slightly more reserved because of housing shortages and pressure on infrastructure.