The consumer confidence index this month fell 0.93 points to 73.33 amid concerns that consumer price hikes would erode household income, while boosting the appeal of durable goods, a survey released yesterday by National Central University showed.
The consumer sentiment gauge softened for the fourth month in a row to the lowest level since February, although the nation has emerged from a local COVID-19 outbreak.
The reading on household income for the next six months reported the biggest drop of 5.15 points to 81.95, the lowest in 13 months, as people worried that rising consumer prices would weaken their financial standing, said Dachrahn Wu (吳大任), director of the university’s Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development, which conducted the survey.
The level of public confidence in consumer prices for the next six months also fell, retreating 3.35 points to 35.5, the survey showed.
About 95 percent of the respondents believe items would become more expensive and add to their financial burdens, Wu said.
Confidence in the nation’s economic outlook in the next six months fell 2.2 points to 86.7, the lowest in 10 months, even though the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics on Friday raised its forecast for GDP growth this year by 0.21 percentage points from its August projection to 6.09 percent.
That is because a global recovery is benefiting local exporters of tech and non-tech products, but service providers that rely on domestic demand are not yet out of the woods, Wu said.
The sub-index on purchases of durable goods — including real estate and home appliances — picked up 3.7 points to 120.5, the highest since December last year, the survey showed.
Concern over inflation has driven funds to the housing market, Wu said, adding that government-backed stimulus vouchers valued at NT$5,000 bolstered purchases of home appliances.
The confidence gauge on stock investment rose 1.4 points to 48.8, indicating poor investment sentiment, which has yet to reflect concerns over the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, he said.
Values of 100 or higher suggest optimistic views and points below the threshold indicate pessimism. The survey was conducted from Nov. 18 to 21, before reports of the Omicron variant emerged in South Africa, Wu said.
People also turned slightly more confident about finding jobs in the next six months, as the sub-index rose 0.05 point to 66.6, the survey found.
Job losses narrowed, but were still higher from a year earlier, government data showed.
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