July 17, 2011 / 4:04 PM / in 9 years

Global consumer confidence at lowest since late 2009 -Nielsen

* Consumer morale falls on slowing growth, rising inflation 	
    * India still top in global consumer poll, Greece bottom 	
    * U.S. confidence weaker than at height of recession in 2009	
     	
    By Susan Fenton 	
    LONDON, July 17 (Reuters) - Global consumer
confidence fell in the second quarter to its lowest level in a
year and a half as an uncertain economic outlook,  a
deepening euro zone debt crisis and rising inflation made people
more cautious, a survey showed on Sunday.	
    Consumer sentiment in the United States was weaker than in
the second half of 2009 at the height of the global recession,
according to The Nielsen Company's quarterly survey of global
consumers. 	
    Globally, consumers plan to tighten their belts in coming
months for everything from stock investing to buying clothes,
taking holidays and upgrading technology, after being slightly
less cautious over the past 12 months, the survey showed. 	
    Thirty one percent of U.S. consumers said they have no spare
cash for discretionary spending, along with 25 percent of
consumers in the Middle East and Africa and 22 percent of
Europeans.	
    Confidence dipped in China, due to rising inflation, as well
as in the Middle East where an initial bounce in consumer morale
after social uprisings in the first quarter gave way to caution
as the political outlook became unclear and rising prices curbed
spending power. Egypt and Saudi Arabia posted the biggest falls
from the first quarter in Nielsen's ranking of confidence in 56
countries worldwide.	
    Confidence was lowest in euro zone countries engulfed by a
deepening debt crisis with Greece coming bottom of the global
ranking . Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy were also
in the bottom 10 although while confidence fell from the first
quarter in Spain and Italy it rose slightly in Portugal and
Ireland.   	
    Indian consumers were still the most bullish globally but
less so than in the first quarter. Consumers in Asia generally
remained much more optimistic than in other regions -- with the
notable exception of the Japanese and South Koreans who were
among the most pessimistic globally -- but rising inflation
tempered Asian purchasing power.	
    India's score in the Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence
Index fell 5 points from the previous quarter to 126. It was
well below the country's record 137 index reading in the second
half of 2006, the highest reading for any country in the index's
six-year history. 	
    The index's global average reading dipped 3 points from the
first quarter to 89, its lowest since the fourth quarter of
2009.	
    A score below 100 signals pessimism about the outlook.	
    "Weak economic figures, slowing manufacturing performance
and inflation in Asia, an intensifying debt crisis in Europe and
continuing political instability in the Middle East, combined
with rising household expenses in the U.S., have taken their
toll on consumers' fragile confidence," said Venkatesh Bala,
chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a unit of Nielsen.	
    "Hopes for full global recovery in the next 12 months
substantially weakened in the second quarter as the majority of
consumers around the world remained in a recessionary mindset."	
    Todd Hale, a senior vice-president at Nielsen in the United
States, said U.S. consumers had been knocked by a series of
negative factors.	
    "With rapidly rising gas prices, inflationary pressures at
check-out, continued woes in the housing market with home
foreclosures and declining property values, unsettling weather
patterns creating flooding and tornado damage, and a stagnant
job market, confidence among U.S. consumers fell in the second
quarter," Hale said.	
    The UK and France, in contrast, saw a bounce in confidence
in the second quarter although the level of morale in both
countries remained below the European average.	
    The survey was taken between May 20 and June 7, covering 	
31,000 consumers in 56 countries. The survey is based on 	
consumers' confidence in the job market, status of their 	
personal finances and readiness to spend. 	
    Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index in the second 	
quarter, 2011 (Change from Q1, 2011 survey in brackets):  	
    Top 10 index readings             Bottom 10 index readings 	
    India              126 (-5)       Ireland           64 (+3) 	
    Philippines        115 (+5)       Spain/Lithuania 60 (-1,-3)	
    Indonesia          112 (-4)       Latvia            57 (0) 	
    Malaysia/UAE       110 (+5,+1)    Italy/Japan       55(-2,0)	
    Switzerland        108 (-2)       S.Korea           52 (+1) 	
    Saudi Arabia/Hong Kong 107 (-11,0) Romania          47 (+1) 	
    China/Thailand     105 (-3,-1)    Croatia           45 (-2) 	
    Australia/Singapore  103 (-7,-6)  Hungary           43 (+2) 	
    Canada             101 (-1)       Portugal          42 (+3) 	
    Peru                99 (0)        Greece            41 (-4) 	
 -------------------------------------------------------------- 	
   Global consumer confidence average      89 (-3)  	
   United States                           78 (-5)	
   Germany                                 88 (-4)	
   UK                                      72 (+5) 	
   France                                  69 (+8)	
                    	
   Source: The Nielsen Company 	
    (Editing by Toby Chopra)
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