Survey shows Malaysian consumers more optimistic

THE latest MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence survey revealed that consumers in Malaysia are bucking the trend, with consumer confidence at very optimistic level. 

With cautious consumer outlook across many Asia Pacific markets, Malaysians, with an index of 71.8, continue to have a positive outlook for the next six months, a statement from MasterCard International said yesterday. 

Though marginally down from the previous period, Malaysia has held at current levels since recovering from its last downturn in 2001, MasterCard said in its biannual report on consumer confidence. 

It said respondents were particularly optimistic about the quality of life, which generated a high score of 86.1, while scores for regular income, economy and employment were 74.5, 72.1 and 66.7 respectively. 

Even the lowest variable, stock market, was at a cautiously optimistic level of 59.5, it said. 

“With the Iraq war and SARS behind us, and the nation forging ahead with the government’s recent introduction of an economic stimulus package, confidence in Malaysia is steadfast for the upcoming months,” vice-president and country manager, Malaysia and Brunei, MasterCard International, Jim Cheah said, adding that the optimistic consumer sentiment would give Malaysia the impetus to grow stronger in the second half of the year.  

The survey covered 13 markets in Asia Pacific and was conducted between June and December to analyse prevailing consumer perceptions of economic conditions for the six-month period ahead. 

The scores ranging between 0 and 100 are based on responses to questions on five variables, namely employment, economy, regular income, stock market and quality of life. 

Looking at the region, despite the war in Iraq, threat of terrorism and outbreak of SARs, consumer outlook in most Asia-Pacific markets improved from the preceding six months, although sentiment remains generally low. 

The latest survey revealed that of the 13 markets surveyed, Thailand and India had the largest increases in consumer confidence from six months ago, while China and New Zealand remained optimistic, albeit at slightly reduced levels. 

Consumers in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong remained pessimistic, said the survey. – Bernama 

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