August 8, 2008 / 3:47 PM / 9 years ago

Consumer confidence up, but not on jobs

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian consumers were feeling slightly more confident in July, but concern about the job market deepened, the Conference Board of Canada said on Friday.

The board’s index of consumer confidence rose 1.4 points in July to 81, according to board’s monthly survey, which is based on 2,000 telephone interviews.

The survey was released the same day that Statistics Canada said 55,000 jobs were lost in July, the biggest decline since February 1991. With that in mind, the boost in consumer confidence is likely temporary, said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

“It’s possible the slip back in gasoline prices has supported confidence a bit... (but) in light of the July job figures I would think confidence will take a big hit in August,” he said.

In the Conference Board survey, the number of respondents who thought there would be more jobs in their communities six months from now fell to 14.3 percent from 15.2 percent in June. The number who said there would be fewer jobs jumped to 29.5 percent from 25.3 percent.

But the pessimism about jobs did not spill over into what respondents said about their current and future finances.

Asked if their families were better or worse off financially compared with six months ago, 20.3 percent of respondents agreed, up from 18.5 percent in June. The number who said their families were worse off dropped to 20.2 percent from 23.7 percent.

Twenty-four percent said their families would be doing better financially in six months, up from 23.3 percent the month before. On the flip side, 20.4 percent thought their financial situation would get worse, down from 21.9 percent.

The survey said Canadians were slightly more inclined to make major purchases, such as buying a car or house, with 35.7 percent of respondents agreeing, versus 32.6 percent in the previous month.

The increase in consumer confidence was most pronounced in Central Canada. In the province of Quebec it was up 5 points. In Ontario it was up 2.6 points.

Confidence continued to decline in British Columbia, the Prairie provinces, and the Atlantic provinces with the regional indexes falling by 3.6, 1.7, and 2.5 points respectively.

The survey was conducted between July 10 and July 16.

($1=$1.07 Canadian)

Editing by Peter Galloway

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