Australia’s business confidence improved in June to the highest since early 2003 but consumer sentiment remained deeply pessimistic in July largely due to fears of persistent inflation and interest rate hikes, private survey results showed on Tuesday.

The business sentiment index advanced to +4 in June from -2 in May, monthly survey data from NAB showed today. The increase was led by the strength in manufacturing and wholesale.

On the other hand, the business conditions index fell to 4 from 6 in May. The fall was driven by declines in employment, profitability indices, while trading conditions remained broadly flat.

NAB Head of Australian Economics Gareth Spence said business conditions were below average, reflecting the slowing in the economy through late 2023 and early 2024.

“Overall, our take on the survey is that it continues to signal another soft quarter in Q2,” Spence said.

Elsewhere, survey from Westpac showed that fears of persistent inflation and further interest rate rises weighed heavily on the consumer mood.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index dropped 1.1 percent to 82.7 in July from 83.6 in June.

The latest fall centered around family finances. The ‘family finances vs a year ago’ sub-index posted the biggest fall, which was down 8.4 percent. The ‘family finances, next 12 months’ sub-index dropped 4.5 percent to 92.1, the weakest read since the end of last year.

Other components improved marginally with consumers a little less pessimistic about the economic outlook and around attitudes towards spending, the survey showed.

The sub-index tracking assessments of the ‘economic outlook, next 12 months’ advanced 3.6 percent to 81.4, while the ‘economic outlook, next 5 years’ gained 0.5 percent to 94.5.

The ‘time to buy a major item’ sub-index moved up 3.1 percent to 82.1 but remained well below its long-run average of 124.

Source: RTT NEWS
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