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Australian consumer cheer chilled by Omicron outbreak By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A consumer carrying a protecting face masks walks down Bourke Street Mall on the primary day of eased coronavirus illness (COVID-19) restrictions for the state of Victoria following an prolonged lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, June 11, 2021. REUT

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A measure of Australian consumer sentiment took a step again in December as an outbreak of the Omicron variant clouded the outlook for the financial system and spending over the Christmas interval.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute index of consumer sentiment launched on Wednesday fell 1.0% in December, wiping out November’s 0.6% achieve.

The index studying was down 6.9% on December final yr, although at 104.3 it meant optimists nonetheless outnumbered pessimists.

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Westpac chief economist Bill Evans famous there have been sharp falls in New South Wales and Victoria the place COVID-19 instances had been highest. The survey additionally discovered extra concern about rising inflation, which can have damage spending plans.

The survey’s measure of whether or not it was a superb time to purchase a significant family merchandise slid 5.3% in December, to be down greater than 13% on a yr in the past.

“The robust development outlook we see for 2022 relies on a surge in consumer spending, as households re-emerge from restrictions and draw down on the big financial savings gathered via the COVID lockdown intervals,” stated Evans.

The survey’s measure on the financial outlook for the following 12 months dipped 1.6% within the month, whereas that for the following 5 years eased 0.5%.

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In distinction, the measure of household funds in contrast with a yr in the past firmed 1.0%, whereas that for funds over the following 12 months rose 2.1%.

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