Survey: Consumer Sentiment Falls in April

A measure of Australian consumer sentiment fell in April as people fretted about the economic outlook even as they felt better about splashing out on big-ticket household items.  Wednesday’s survey of 1,200 people by the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank showed its index of consumer sentiment slipped a seasonally adjusted 3.2 percent in April, from March when it dipped 1.2 percent.

The index reading of 96.2 was 3.5 percent lower than in April last year. The retreat unwound more of February’s sharp 8.0 percent gain which followed a cut in interest rates early that month.  The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has since held rates steady, but has left the door open for further easing if needed.

“We must recognise that confidence is again looking vulnerable heading into the Budget announcement next month,” said Westpac’s chief economist Bill Evens.  “Indeed, recognition that the next Budget is imminent may have contributed to this month’s weakening in confidence.”