Australian consumer confidence gets modest budget boost
SYDNEY, April 10 (Reuters) - A measure of Australian
consumer confidence bounced modestly from one-year lows in April
as a give-away budget from the government boosted optimism on
the future even as family finances were being squeezed right
Wednesday's survey showed the Melbourne Institute and
Westpac Bank index of consumer sentiment rose 1.9
percent in April, only partially retracing March's sharp 4.8
The index was down 1.7 percent from a year earlier at 100.7,
meaning optimists now just outnumbered pessimists.
The survey of 1,200 people was conducted as the coalition
government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an annual
budget full of infrastructure spending and tax breaks.
The government faces an election in May and is still
trailing in opinion polls despite the budget.
The biggest improvement in sentiment was recorded among
coalition voters, which jumped 6.1 percent.
"The key issue will be whether this boost from the Budget is
sustained," said Westpac chief economist Bill Evans.
"Persistent weak wages growth; falling house prices; and the
perceived rising cost of living are all weighing on consumers."
That drag was evident in a measure of family finances
compared to a year ago, which fell 4.9 percent in April. A
measure of whether it was a good time to buy a major household
item also eased 2.0 percent.
In contrast, the outlook for family finances over the next
12 months rose by 4.1 percent. The index of economic conditions
over the next 12 months rose 6.2 percent and that for the next
five years by 5.9 percent.
Sentiment toward the beleaguered housing market improved,
with the time to buy a dwelling index firming 2.4 percent to a
The index has risen 33 percent from its mid-2017 low and is
back around the long-run average of 120. There was also a sharp
rise in expectations for house price gains, a surprise given
values have been dropping for months.
(Reporting by Wayne Cole
Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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