The nation's consumer confidence index fell by 0.54 percentage points to 82.44 points last month from December's 82.98, a National Central University survey found yesterday.
\n"This shows that local consumers adopted a wait-and-see attitude in purchasing activities," said Chu Yun-peng (朱雲鵬), head of the university's research center for Taiwan Economic Development.
\nAccording to Chu, the index rose by 4.71 percentage points compared to one year earlier, suggesting that an uptrend in local consumption is foreseeable.
\nLast year's SARS outbreak caused the index to plummet to 72.34 points, while consumers showed another wave of pessimism in November to upset the index again, Chu said.
\nThe research center's indexes gauge the public's expectations for the next six months on stock performance, consumer price fluctuations, household income, employment, economic outlook and durable goods.
\nThe survey found that consumers were worried that commodity prices are on the rise.
\nConsumers are not optimistic about stock investments, the economic outlook and an employment recovery.
\nChu said that over 60 percent of polled respondents expressed a negative view of the nation's job prospects while only 5 percent were upbeat.
\nAs a leading indicator of where the economy's heading, yesterday's index, however, stood in slight contrast to the nation's estimates on improving economic fundamentals, including economic growth.
\nHu Chung-ying (
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