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(Australian Associated Press)
Consumer confidence edged up last week as many people held a cautiously optimistic outlook, a survey of households suggests.
The Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index rose 0.6 per cent to 101.3 in May, gaining above the 100-point mark that separates optimism from pessimism, following a 1.9 per cent jump in April.
Westpac economist Bill Evans said it was a modest uptick that followed a surge in sentiment when the federal government’s budget was released last month.
“The post-budget index reading was 104.3, meaning that sentiment in May has deteriorated by around three per cent compared to post-budget levels,” he said.
“This probably reflects some ‘cooling off’ from the initial confidence boost, which was substantial”.
The Melbourne Institute’s report noted that the index is still 0.5 per cent below its level a year ago, suggesting “consumers are feeling a little more optimistic but remain relatively cautious”.
Confidence fell 14 per cent on the previous month for people with incomes of between $80,000 and $100,000 while sentiment rose 7.8 per cent for those earning less than $20,000 a year.
The survey results also indicated a gender difference in sentiment, with confidence falling 2.5 per cent among women but rising 3.7 per cent among men.