Confidence falls on weak jobs market

Consumer confidence has fallen for a third straight week, a survey shows, with worries about job security the likely cause of concerns.

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The latest ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian Consumer Confidence Survey shows that sentiment fell 2.3 per cent to 113.7 in the week ended February 19, remaining above the 100-point level separating confidence and pessimism.

ANZ’s head of Australian economics David Plank said the fall in confidence was surprising given recent economic data has been broadly positive.

“Signs of renewed weakness in full-time employment may have weighed on consumers’ views of their personal finances even as the headline unemployment rate ticked down,” he said in a note.

“It is also possible that recent discussions on housing affordability have negatively impacted sentiment.

“Views on financial conditions have been trending down since the start of 2017 and have now dropped to around the long-run average. This warrants some concern as the sub-index is closely correlated with consumer spending.”

Survey respondents’ views of their current financial conditions, compared to one year ago, fell 7.5 per cent to be at their lowest level since August, 2014, and they were just 0.3 per cent more upbeat about their future finances.

Consumers were also less optimistic about the wider economic outlook, with their views about economic conditions over the next 12 months falling 1.6 per cent and their views about economic conditions over the next five years slumping 4.9 per cent.

The only bright spot on the survey was a 1.3 per cent rise of the “now is a good time to buy a major household item” subindex.