More than 60 percent of global consumers downbeat: Nielsen

Sun Oct 30, 2011 4:11pm EDT
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By Susan Fenton

LONDON (Reuters) - Global consumer confidence remained weak in the third quarter with more than 60 percent of consumers saying it was not a good time to spend, and one-in-three North Americans saying they have no spare cash, a survey showed on Sunday.

The economic outlook, followed by job security, became consumers' biggest concern in the third quarter, overtaking worries about rising inflation, according to the quarterly survey by global analytics and information company Nielsen.

The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index dipped just 1 point in the third quarter from the second quarter to 88 points, but it was shored up by a surge in confidence in emerging economies Brazil and Saudi Arabia, which masked weak confidence in major developed economies.

A reading below 100 indicates consumers are pessimistic about the economic outlook for the coming months.

Confidence was highest in India for a seventh straight quarter but India's reading fell 5 points from the second quarter and Saudi Arabia was catching up.

Consumer morale in the euro zone remained especially weak, notably in France, as the region's debt crisis deepened during the summer. Confidence in Greece, at the center of the crisis, actually rose sharply but it was still the fourth-weakest of markets surveyed. Confidence was lowest in Hungary.

One-in-five Europeans said they have no extra cash to spend, although that was better than one-in-three North Americans. Confidence in European powerhouse Germany was better than much of Europe and the United States, but like the U.S. its reading dipped 1 point from the second quarter.

"The third quarter was volatile and challenging for global economies and financial markets amid stagnant U.S. unemployment figures and a worsening euro zone debt crisis," said Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a part of Nielsen.   Continued...