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Survey: Consumer confidence declines across developed markets in Asia-Pacific

Consumer confidence among developed markets in Asia-Pacific has dropped as concerns about slow growth spread across the region, according to the latest MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence, released on Thursday.

The MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence (Index) is based on a survey conducted between 5 December 2011 and 8 February 2012 on 12,915 respondents aged 18 to 64 years in 25 countries within Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa. The Index score is calculated with zero as the most pessimistic, 100 as most optimistic and 50 as neutral.

According to the survey, only 5 out of 14 Asia-Pacific markets polled recorded positive sentiment when compared to the first half of 2011. The last Index conducted during the first half of 2011 showed that 11 out of the 14 Asia-Pacific markets polled recorded positive consumer sentiment with stable optimism. Overall, Asia-Pacific saw a drop from 57.4 Index points in the first half of 2011 to 52.1 Index points with declines in all key indicators of regular income (69.0 to 64.5 Index points), employment (56.8 to 49.3 Index points), economy (54.8 to 49.3 Index points), quality of life (49.7 to 49.6 Index points) and stock market (56.7 to 47.9 Index points).

Extreme deteriorations were recorded in Hong Kong, down 38.7 Index points compared to the first half of 2011. Taiwan (down 36.3 Index points), Singapore (down 25.9 Index points) and South Korea (down 19.7 Index points) also saw strong declines in consumer sentiment compared to the previous six months. However, significant improvement was recorded in emerging markets such as Indonesia (up 21.8 Index points), Thailand (up 19.5 Index points), India (up 18.4 Index points) and Philippines (up 24.7 Index points).

Overall consumer confidence in Hong Kong spiralled down from 68.6 in the first half of 2011 to 29.9 Index points, with Taiwan down from 66.4 to 30.1 Index points and Singapore down from 75.9 to 50.0 Index points.

Confidence among Hong Kong’s consumers in their economy collapsed from 66.4 to 19.9 Index points, with employment down from 70.4 to 25.7 Index points and quality of life down from 46.3 to 21.1 Index points. Steep falls were also recorded in consumers’ attitude towards the stock market (down from 79.1 to 23.3 Index points) and regular income (down from 80.6 to 59.4 Index points).

At the opposite end of the spectrum consumer confidence in Philippines increased from 52.3 Index points in the first half of 2011 to 77.0 in the second half with increases in confidence recorded across all key indicators. Indonesians also showed increased optimism with overall consumer confidence jumping from 54.4 Index points in the first half of 2011 to 76.2, alongside India (62.8 to 81.2 Index points) and Thailand up from 44.4 to 63.9 Index points. Malaysian consumers recorded a small deterioration (60.6 to 52.8 Index points), while consumers in Japan (16.7 to 16.2 Index points), Vietnam (78.0 to 78.8 Index points) and New Zealand (38.6 to 35.7 Index points) remained stable.

"The persistent Europe-centred crisis is a serious drag on global economic growth, which is a headwind common to all markets in the Asia-Pacific region. However, it is the differences in the domestic environment that have clearly caused consumer confidence to diverge sharply between the key regional markets," said Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor for MasterCard Worldwide.

"The strong showing of emerging markets like Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and India suggests that domestic factors that boost private consumption can make a big difference in sustaining positive consumer sentiments even as overall growth is slowing," he concluded.