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NZ consumer confidence rises to 4-year high as kiwis happier about finances

New Zealand consumer confidence rose to its highest level in about four years in the fourth quarter as kiwis turned positive about their own finances and more optimistic their own circumstances will improve in the year ahead.

The Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Index rose to 120.1 in December, the highest since the third quarter of 2009, from 115.4 in the September survey. Asked about their own financial situation, of those polled a net 0.4 percent said things had improved, up from -9.4 three months ago. Those expecting further improvement in the next 12 months rose to 12.1 from 9.6.

"With the construction sector ramping up, jobs on the rise, house and share prices soaring, and dairy prices sky high, we would have been surprised to see otherwise," said Dominick Stephens, chief economist at Westpac Banking Corp. "Households haven't been this positive about their own finances, or optimistic for the wider economy, in many years."

The survey results come less than a week after the Reserve Bank gave a clear signal it will start raising interest rates early next year in the face of increased momentum in the domestic economy. The Westpac survey follows the ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index last week, which recorded the highest reading in almost four years. Business confidence is near a 15-year high.

"If any more evidence was needed that the New Zealand economy is picking up, this is it," Stephens said.

The Westpac survey shows the present conditions index improved to 113.1 from 107.6, while the expected conditions index climbed to 124.8 from 120.5

The one-year outlook for the economy as a whole showed the biggest gained between the third and fourth quarters, surging to 27.8 from 14.1. The five-year outlook slipped back to 34.4 from 37.8.

Those deeming it a good time to buy a major household item rose to 25.8 from 24.7.

The survey of 1,569 people was conducted between Dec. 1 and Dec. 10.

(BusinessDesk)

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