Consumer confidence improves as outlook brightens

New Zealand consumer confidence edged up in December from November, with more Kiwis surveyed expecting their families to be better off in a year and the nation to have better times over the next five years.

The ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence rose to 114.7 this month from 114.1 in November. A reading above 100 indicates there are more optimists than pessimists.

The Current Conditions index fell to 108.6 from 110.2 last month and the Future Conditions index rose to 118.8 from 116.7.

The Current Conditions index is still at modest levels, which may reflect a weak labour market and rising unemployment, says Cameron Bagrie, chief economist at ANZ New Zealand. While businesses have signalled jobs growth, "this has failed to translate into reality".

Underlining concerns about the jobs market and the unemployment rate unexpectedly climbed to 7.3 percent in the third quarter.

Against that, house prices have been rising, particularly in Auckland and Christchurch, which typically makes people feel wealthier.

House price expectations continued their steady climb this month, rising to 3.9 percent from 3.5 percent in November. For Auckland, expectations were 4.5 percent.

Those deeming now a good time to buy major household items slipped to 24 percent from 26 percent. The percentage of Kiwis surveyed feeling worse off than a year ago worsened to -7 from -6.

Expectations of inflation two years ahead fell to 3.2 percent from 3.4 percent.

Males were more confident than females, falling 1 point to 120, while females gained 3 points to 110.

Auckland and Canterbury were the most upbeat regions on 124, the highest for Canterbury since the February 2011 earthquake. Wellington was in third on 116.


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