Mideast consumers upbeat, EU struggles
Dubai, May 22, 2011
Consumer confidence surged in the Middle East and North Africa in the first quarter in the wake of social uprisings, but deteriorated in the euro zone periphery as Portugal's financial woes came to a head, a survey showed on Sunday.
Portugal, which was finally forced to follow Greece and Ireland and seek an international bailout last month, ranked bottom in a quarterly global survey of consumer confidence by New York-based The Nielsen Company, a market information and analytics company. India retained the top spot.
Consumer morale globally improved slightly from the fourth quarter of 2010, helped by sharply rising confidence in fast-growing Asian economies and in Europe's biggest economy Germany. US consumer sentiment also increased slightly.
Asia dominated the top 10 most optimistic markets while nine of the 10 most pessimistic markets were in Europe.
Sixty-three per cent of consumers in the Asia Pacific said their job prospects over the next year were good to excellent, an 11 percentage point jump from the previous quarter and indicating Asians will step up spending in coming months.
Confidence levels in Asia, the Middle East and Africa and Germany reached the highest since the survey was launched in 2005.
Egypt's confidence score surged 29 points to 102, the biggest increase among 51 markets surveyed, following the social uprising which toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
'The joy of gaining civil and political freedom and experiencing the first truly free voting has raised consumers' expectations and hopes for faster economic growth,' said Khaled El Tohami, Managing Director, Nielsen Egypt.
Saudi Arabia, second behind India in the survey, and the United Arab Emirates also saw double-digit growth in their scores from the previous quarter's survey.
Confidence remained highest in India, maintaining its fourth-quarter score of 131. That though was below the country's record 137 index reading in the second half of 2006, the highest reading for any country in the Nielsen consumer confidence index's history.
A score below 100 signals pessimism about the outlook.
China's score jumped 8 points from the previous quarter to 108, reflecting inflation-beating income growth, particularly in rural areas, The Nielsen Company said.
The survey was taken between March 23 and April 12, covering 28,000 consumers in 51 countries. The survey is based on consumers' confidence in the job market, status of their personal finances and readiness to spend.-Reuters