The consumer confidence index this month sank to 64.5, the lowest in 12.5 years, as a persisting stock rout and COVID-19 infections have made consumers apprehensive, a survey by National Central University found yesterday.
The index fell 3.67 points from one month earlier to the same level as the global financial crisis in 2008-2009, with all six component measures taking a hit, said Dachrahn Wu (吳大任), director of the university’s Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development, which conducted the survey.
In particular, the sub-index on stock investment tumbled 7.4 points to a record low of 25.5, suggesting that a majority of investors prefer to stay on the sidelines, scared by wild corrections at home and abroad, Wu said.
Photo: Liao Chen-hui, Taipei Times
The sub-index on the nation’s economic outlook fell 4.9 points to 80.95, the softest since June 2020, as concerns over an economic turnaround continue to build up even though key economic bellwethers, such as exports and industrial output, hold firm, Wu said.
Confidence values of 100 and more suggest positive sentiment and scores lower than the threshold indicate pessimism.
Interest rates on 30-year mortgages approached 6 percent in the US, which could squeeze spending on non-essential items, Wu said, adding that the trend is unfavorable for Taiwanese manufacturers, because many supply electronic parts used in smartphones, laptops, TVs, vehicles and peripheral devices.
Taiwanese also expressed unease over rising inflationary pressures, depressing the confidence measure on consumer prices to 26.65, the lowest level since December 2008, the survey showed.
Consumer price hikes are most evident at restaurants and department stores, Wu said.
Interest in consumption of durable goods shed 2.9 points to a record low of 111.9, while interest in real-estate properties dropped by 5.55 points to 105.55, the lowest since the launch of the index, the university said.
Taiwan’s interest rate hikes, although relatively moderate, would still make buyers cautious about financial planning to avoid cash strain, Wu said.
The central bank has raised interest rates by 1.5 percent in two adjustments this year and is expected to tighten further if consumer prices fail to ease.
The university said it polled 2,792 adults between June 18 and Tuesday last week by telephone.
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