Canadians less cheery about economy: RBC survey

Fri Oct 1, 2010 1:55pm EDT
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Consumer confidence in Canada has dropped "significantly" in the past three months, reflecting concerns about the pace of the global economic recovery, a survey released by Royal Bank of Canada showed on Friday.

The RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index fell 14 points to 94 points, driven by declines in all three of its sub-indexes.

Sixty percent of survey respondents think the overall economic outlook is good, but sentiment is down seven points from last quarter. Job anxiety is slightly higher from last quarter, but still below its peak levels in November 2009, results showed.

About 46 percent of Canadians think that the national economy will improve next year, down nine points from three months ago.

"The uncertain and uneven global economic outlook has not gone unnoticed by consumers, translating to heightened anxiety and weaker confidence," said Craig Wright, chief economist at RBC.

The results come as a Conference Board of Canada index released this week showed consumer confidence in Canada slipped for the fourth consecutive month in September, pushed down by the slowing pace of the economic recovery.

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said on Thursday that record high household-debt levels and a soft U.S. export market mean modest economic growth for Canada in the months ahead, suggesting further interest rate hikes will likely be delayed.

The RBC index shows debt management continues to weigh on consumers' minds. About 51 percent of respondents say they are focusing on reducing their debt over the next year, while 39 percent say they plan on spending less.

Sixty-six percent of Canadians think interest rates are going up in the next six months, down from the last quarter's reading of 84 percent. About 28 percent expect that interest rates will stay the same over that period.

Data for the survey was collected online from more than 4,000 Canadians by Ipsos Reid.

(Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson)