Signs of recovery fail to lift nation’s mood | Ralph Lauren

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It appears Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s enthusiasm about the economic outlook has yet to rub off on Australians.

The recent raft of positive economic news has failed to make much impression with confidence slipping further in the past week.

The latest weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index eased 0.2 per cent, its third consecutive fall.

Components of the index — a pointer to future household spending — proved a mixed bag, with confidence surrounding people’s current financial conditions sinking by 3 per cent.

The “time to buy a major household item” sub-index also dropped 2.4 per cent.

But when respondents were asked about their future financial wellbeing, this sub-index improved 2.4 per cent and remained above the long-run average.

ANZ head of Australian economics David Plank noted overall confidence remains higher than a year earlier.

“The comparison reflects the impact of the bushfires in late 2019 and early 2020,” Mr Plank said releasing the index on Tuesday.

Mr Frydenberg concedes the road ahead would still be challenging and many Australians were doing it tough.

“But we also know that Australia is so well positioned for that economic recovery, and the economic data that we have seen across the country is pointing in that direction,” he said.

His comments came after the recent spate of upbeat figures for job vacancies, home lending and retail sales, suggesting the economic recovery is in full swing.

This week’s key monthly job figures are expected to show a further decline in the unemployment rate, aided by the recovery in Victoria from its prolonged COVID-19 lockdown last year.

Economists expect Thursday’s labour force report for December to show a 50,000 rise in the number of people employed after the 90,000 jump in November.

This is expected to see the jobless rate ease to 6.7 per cent from 6.8 per cent, and a further pull-back from the 22-year high of 7.5 per cent seen in July last year and during the depths of the recession.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will provide a glimpse into that data with the release of its weekly payrolls jobs report on Tuesday – a special series introduced to provide a more frequent update on the state of the economy during the pandemic.


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