17 Jan 2013

Confidence up but picture not that rosy, economist warns

8:11 pm on 17 January 2013

Consumer confidence increased for the third month in a row January, especially in Auckland where confidence is being boosted by high property prices.

However, an economist warns the picture is not as rosy as it seems.

The latest ANZ Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence index rose four points to 118.3 between December to January.

A reading above 100 shows optimism, while a reading below indicates pessimism.

Consumers are feeling more optimistic about their own financial position in the year ahead, as well as for the general economy.

Aucklanders were the most confident, with levels hitting a two-and-a-half-year high as property prices continue to rise.

ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie says confidence is usually high at this time of year, but once the seasonal effect is stripped out, consumer confidence is actually stagnant.

"Net on net it's at an okay, reasonable level. It's not exactly flagging that consumer households are getting out there off to the races spending-wise - there's still a fair bit of caution.

"But once again, a glass half-full interpretation (shows) we've still got confidence above the key 100 benchmark, which I guess is a bit of a break-even as to whether people are spending or not."

The ANZ's composite growth indicator, which combines its business and consumer sentiment surveys, suggests growth of about 2.2% in 2013.