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Consumers feeling confident about economy

MICHAEL FOREMAN
Last updated 14:41 17/07/2014

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Consumer confidence is inching up as consumers appear to be shrugging off rising interest rates and are focusing instead on better employment prospects and a solid economy.

The latest ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Index rose to 132.7, its second consecutive monthly rise, moving up slightly from 131.9 in June.

ANZ said it did not want to overplay the significance of a couple of months of "ever-so-slight lifts".

However, in an environment where interest rates had moved up and were projected to rise further, and the housing market had "plateaued", consumer confidence not only looked "resilient" but it had bucked a downward trend in March to May.

A seven-year high in confidence among 18- to 24-year-olds appeared to suggest that young people in particular were expecting the economy to improve, ANZ said.

ANZ's composite confidence gauge, which measures both consumer and business confidence, was still projecting a booming economy, suggesting 6 per cent annual growth.

But although the economy was growing strongly, it was not achieving that sort of trajectory, ANZ said.

A modest majority of consumers, a net 9 per cent, said they felt better off financially than a year ago. More felt they would be better off in a year from now, a net 40 per cent, up from 34 per cent last month.

With a high New Zealand dollar suppressing prices, most consumers, a net 44 per cent, said it was a good time to buy a major household item.

On a regional basis, confidence in both Auckland and the North Island excluding Wellington lifted to their highest level in six months, but confidence in Canterbury and the remainder of the South Island dropped to 8 and 7 month lows respectively.

After reaching its best level since 2007 last month, confidence in Wellington retraced, with the region dropping to the middle of the pack, ANZ said.

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