Indonesians still world's most bullish consumers, Americans less upbeat: survey

Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:03pm EST
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By Susan Fenton

LONDON (Reuters) - Indonesians remained the world's most bullish consumers in the final quarter of 2013 while Americans were slightly less willing to spend than in the previous quarter, a global survey showed.

In the euro zone, confidence rose sharply in Ireland, which successfully completed its EU/IMF bailout program late last year, and improved in Germany and Spain.

But sentiment plunged in France and Portugal and slipped in Greece and Italy, according to the quarterly survey by global information and insights company Nielsen.

Countries in Asia, including India and China, and the Gulf continued to dominate the list of most upbeat consumer markets although Brazil, Denmark and Canada also featured in the top 10 markets, the survey, released on Wednesday, showed.

The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index stayed at 94 in the fourth quarter for a third straight quarter, but was up 3 points from the same period a year earlier. A reading below 100, however, signals still relatively low consumer morale.

Consumer sentiment in the United States slipped four points from a six-year high in the third quarter although it was five points higher than in the fourth quarter of 2012.

"The lack of additional recent improvement in U.S. consumer sentiment is, in some measure, surprising given the improvements in employment, stock market values and housing that occurred over 2013," said Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen.

"It is likely that this is a reflection of the uneven manner in which such gains have been made, and also that levels of underemployment and long-term unemployment remain high, with many workers remaining discouraged and not participating in the workforce."   Continued...

People walk in front of a billboard of a new store at a mall in Jakarta, September 4, 2013. REUTERS/Beawiharta