Thu, Jan 18, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Consumer confidence is lagging behind neighbors

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's consumer confidence index for the first half of the year rose slightly from six months ago on improving stock market performance, but lags far behind its regional neighbors, a MasterCard Worldwide survey released yesterday showed.

The biannual survey indicated that Taiwan's consumer confidence climbed to a score of 30.8, compared to 29.1 six months ago and 26.6 a year earlier, but was still lower than the historical average score of 48.5.

Taiwan's stocks gained for a fourth day yesterday. The TAIEX index added 41.90, or 0.54 percent, to close at 7,833.98 points, approaching a six-year high of 8,000 points.

The results of the survey indicated that Taiwanese were pessimistic about their economy during the first half of this year.

Taiwan only outpaced South Korea, which scored 29.3, among the countries or regions surveyed.

"[Taiwan's] consumers are very pessimistic about payrolls, the economy, jobs and quality of life," MasterCard said in the survey.

By contrast, the overall, consumer confidence index in the Asia-Pacific region grew significantly to 64.3, exceeding the historical average of 59.5, indicating an upbeat outlook for the region's economies in the coming six months, according to the survey.

The index was 57.4 six months ago and 57.7 a year ago.

"Falling oil prices and booming stockmarkets are the major reasons behind the optimism," said Yuwa Hedrick-Wong (王月魂), an economist for MasterCard Asia-Pacific.

Consumers in Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore are the most confident in Asia, followed by China, according to the survey.

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