Consumer sentiment high in Malaysia

MALAYSIA remains the second most optimistic country in the Asia-Pacific after Thailand, according to MasterCard's latest MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence Survey. 

MasterCard International's senior vice-president (regional business development) Asia-Pacific Stuart W.E. McDonald said at a briefing in Singapore yesterday that consumer confidence in Malaysia had leapt ahead from its already very optimistic level six months ago (71.8). 

Its current score is the highest recorded in the history of MasterIndex, and quality of life (97.7) topped the list of variables, while employment (81.4) scored the lowest. 

Significant gains were observed in sentiment on the stock market, currently at 95.2, up from 59.5 six months ago. 

McDonald said: “In the past, MasterIndex has demonstrated its precision at several important junctures as a barometer of consumer sentiment. 

“This optimistic outlook for Malaysia reflects Malaysians' rising consumer confidence in the local economy for the first half of this year.”  

According to McDonald, this encouraging sentiment echoes Malaysia's resilient ability to rebound and its commitment to strengthen the economy.  

He said MasterCard International had a strong and absolutely dynamic growth in Malaysia. 

“We have a commitment to Malaysia as it is a very important market for us. We will continue to be extremely active and maintain our position in Malaysia,” he added.  

Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam topped the list of highly positive markets, while Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and Taiwan were the most improved. 

Of the 13 markets surveyed, only Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines and Japan had a pessimistic view of the six months ahead, although Japan is noted for its marked improvement in outlook from the last survey. 

According to MasterIndex, consumer sentiment in the Asia-Pacific for the first six months of 2004 has rebounded significantly from its depressed levels of June last year during the Iraq war, the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak and escalating threat of terrorism. 

A total of 5,447 people were surveyed between Oct 27 and Dec 15 last year for this report. 

McDonald said: “It is very encouraging to see confidence levels well above historical MasterIndex averages across two-thirds of the region, notably the six markets scoring in their eighties and nineties.  

“Only Indonesian and Philippine consumers appear to have taken a step back in their outlook for the first half of 2004”. 

MasterCard International's economic adviser for the Asia-Pacific, Dr Yuwa HedrickWong, said the results from this latest round of the MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence reflected a rising resilience of Asia-Pacific consumers in spite of increasing volatility in the global and regional environments. 

The twice-yearly survey is the most comprehensive and longest running consumer sentiment survey in the Asia-Pacific region.  

Covering 13 markets, the survey is conducted in June and December to analyse prevailing consumer perceptions of economic conditions for the six months ahead. 

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

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