18 Mar 2013

Consumer confidence flat, index shows

5:45 pm on 18 March 2013

Consumer confidence is flat, with people feeling upbeat about the present, but less so about the future.

The Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Index edged down slightly to 110.8 in the March quarter. A figure above 100 indicates optimists outnumber pessimists.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens says confidence is more resilient than expected given the intensifying North Island drought.

He says people are still fairly optimistic about their own situation but optimism for New Zealand's propects for the next five years has dipped slightly.

Mr Stephens says the survey indicates consumer spending is likely to stay buoyant for the next three months.

Meanwhile activity in the services sector has picked up, providing another sign of a solid economic recovery.

The BNZ-Business New Zealand Performance of Services Index rose nearly three points to 55.5 last month, its highest level for February since the survey began in 2007. A reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding.