Australia's consumer confidence hits 27-month high in March
SYDNEY (REUTERS) - A measure of Australian consumer confidence rose for a third straight month this month, as people grew more upbeat about the economic outlook and their own finances, suggesting lower interest rates were working to revive demand.
The poll of 1,200 people by the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank showed its index of consumer sentiment climbed 2 per cent this month, on top of last month's steep 7.7 per cent jump. It was also up a healthy 15.1 per cent on March last year. The index of 110.5 was the highest since December 2010 and meant optimists increasingly outnumbered pessimists in the poll.
"This is a strong result," said Westpac chief economist Bill Evans. "The clear signal from this survey is that the RBA's rate cuts are gaining some traction with households."
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut interest rates by 125 basis points last year, taking them to a record-matching low of 3 per cent. It skipped a chance to move further at its March meeting in part because it felt the extent of past easing had yet to be fully felt.