Slumping Oil Prices Boosts Australian Consumer Confidence

A measure of Australian consumer sentiment rebounded in January as sharp falls in petrol prices and better news on employment left people more ready to splash out on major items.  Wednesday’s survey of 1,200 people by the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank showed its index of consumer sentiment rose a seasonally adjusted 2.4 percent in January, although that followed a 5.7 percent drop in December.

The index reading of 93.2 was still down 9.7 percent on the same month last year. Pessimists have now outnumbered optimists for 11 months in a row.  The survey was conducted in a week when official data showed the unemployment rate fell unexpectedly to 6.1 percent in December as employment far outstripped forecasts.

Also helping the general mood has been the steady drop in petrol prices to six-year lows, which is adding to consumer spending power.  The impact showed in the survey, with the index on whether it was a good time to buy a major household item surging by 13.6 percent to completely recover a sharp fall in December.

Reuters

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