Tue, Jul 20, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Survey reports dip in consumer confidence

BIANNUAL POLL MasterCard International's latest report found Taiwanese optimistic about the economy for the rest of 2004, even though the numbers fell from last time

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's consumers appear optimistic about the outlook for the next six months, although the confidence score dropped slightly from half a year ago, according to a survey released yesterday by MasterCard International.

The nation's score was 58.6, down from 65.7 in the previous report, according to the company, which surveyed 13 Asia-Pacific countries or territories between May 15 and June 5.

The drop was mainly caused by significantly weaker stock market sentiments (60.6 versus 79.6 six months ago) and softer sentiments on the economy (65.1 versus 76.6 six months ago) and employment (48.7 versus 52.6 six months ago).

Outlook on regular income, how-ever, remains optimistic (70.1 versus 69.7 six months ago) while sentiments on quality of life are neutral (48.6 versus 50.0 six months ago), the biannual report said.

Tina Chiang (江威娜), vice president and business manager of MasterCard International, said con-sumer confidence hit the second highest level since 2002 and outdid the average figure of 50.4 over the survey's 12-year history.

This shows the public's faith in economic development for the next six-months period despite the recent spike in oil prices and related uncertainties, the report said.

The result of MasterCard's survey is in line with a poll conducted by the Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development at National Central University, which was released on June 30. That survey also found that concern over the TAIEX's decline has helped push down the consumer confidence index (CCI), said Chu Yun-peng (朱雲鵬), an economics professor, at a press conference last month.

Stock-market prospects saw the biggest fall among the six variables, with respondents saying that the next six months will not be a good time to buy stocks.

The center is scheduled to release its next CCI report at the end of this month.

With the consumers remaining confident about the future, MasterCard's survey found that 11 of the 13 Asia Pacific markets polled revealed continued optimism, compared to eight in the previous survey conducted at the end of last year.

Vietnam, Malaysia and China topped the list of markets with a highly positive outlook. The others were ranked in descending order: Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand and the Philippines.

"The region remains solidly optimistic in general, which is consistent with the maturing economic recovery both globally and in Asia," said Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard's regional economic advisor.

"Outlooks on the economy, income, employment and quality of life tend to remain strongly optimistic," she said.

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