10 Mar 2010

Strong economic recovery some way off, data suggests

9:05 am on 10 March 2010

A raft of economic data suggests a strong bounce back from the recession is still some way off.

Economists say recent consumer spending and unemployment figures have been more disappointing than predicted.

A UMR Consumer Confidence Index survey of 1000 people has found nearly two-thirds remain wary about buying new goods.

Official figures on electronic card transactions show core retail spending, which excludes fuel and car-related purchases, fell a seasonally adjusted 0.2% to $3.2 billion in February.

It is the second consecutive monthly drop.

ANZ National Bank has ditched its assessment that the first half of the year will record solid growth and now says it will be early 2011 before the economy fires up.

Chief economist, Cameron Bagrie, says with the unemployment rate still rising and consumers not spending, the economy is clearly still stagnant.

Figures released by the Government on Tuesday showed the number of people receiving the unemployment benefit fell in February by 4000, or about 6%. About 64,000 people are collecting the benefit.

In addition to the Reserve Bank's monetary policy statement on Thursday, housing market figures are due to be released along with the monthly food price index. Retail trade data is due out on Friday.