Taiwan's consumer confidence index fell to a six-month low of 72.34 points for this month, down slightly by 0.87 points from last month's level, according to survey results released yesterrday by the Taiwan Research Institute.
The results of the public opinion poll showed that Taiwan's consumer confidence has been markedly affected by the outbreak and spread of SARS, institute officials said.
The officials pointed out that the potentially deadly flu-like disease might continue to cast a shadow over domestic consumer confidence in the short term.
The institute's officials said Taiwan's consumer confidence will be further eroded should the government fail to effectively contain the spread of SARS, despite the fact that the prospects for the world economy are rosy with the quick end to the US-led war in Iraq.
Among the six sub-indexes which together make up the consumer confidence index, the public's confidence in "the business climate over the coming six months" has been most affected by SARS, with that sub-index falling to a historic low of 56 points in May, a drop of 3.35 points from the April level, according to the survey.
However, the sub-index of "public confidence about product prices in the six months ahead" rose to a three-year high of 102 points, a reflection of the fact that deflationary pressure is mounting as the general public sees prices remaining stable in the near future.
The sub-index regarding public confidence in job opportunities over the next six months was 46.2 points for May, down by 1.9 points from the month-earlier level, an indication that the strong demand for jobs in the domestic market remains unabated.
The random telephone survey of 1,156 residents aged over 20 was conducted May 15 to 18.