Australian consumer sentiment eroded by bushfires in January - Metro US

Australian consumer sentiment eroded by bushfires in January

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian consumer sentiment fell again in January as bushfires ravaged the country killing 29 people, millions of animals and destroying thousands of homes, a troubling omen for the country’s struggling economy.

Wednesday’s survey showed the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank index of consumer sentiment fell 1.8% in January, from December when it declined 1.9%.

The index was down a hefty 6.2% from a year earlier, and at 93.4 indicated pessimists continued to outnumber optimists.

“Confidence has been further eroded by the bushfires but because the index was starting from such a modest level it was likely that the fall in confidence would be less than some may have expected,” Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said in a statement.

“This low level of confidence is consistent with the generally lacklustre reports on consumer spending.”

(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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