Australia Consumer Sentiment Weakest Since Mid-2015

Australia’s consumer confidence weakened to the lowest level in more than four years in October despite interest rate reductions, survey results from Westpac showed Wednesday.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment dropped to 92.8 in October from 98.2 in September. This was the lowest score since July 2015.

Typically, an interest rate cut boosts confidence particularly around consumers’ expectations for and assessments of their own finances.

However, in this survey the indicator measuring assessment of current family finances dropped 4.9 percent to 80.2 and that for future family finances slid 3.7 percent to a five-year low of 93.3.

Despite the rate cut, assessment for the economy for the next year plunged by 6 percent to 87.1 and the five-year outlook declined 9.1 percent to 88.9.

Consumer attitudes towards spending also deteriorated in October. The ‘time to buy a major household item’ sub-index declined 4.2 percent to 114.5.

Global events also contributed to the weak result in October with the deterioration in US-China trade relations weighing on the global economy amid speculation of a recession in the US, Bill Evans, chief economist at Westpac, said.

Evans noted that the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia is likely to take some time to assess the impact of the three rate cuts before deciding to move again.

Westpac expects that next move will be a further cut in the cash rate to 0.5 percent in February next year.

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