SINGAPORE — Consumer confidence has picked up across Asia/Pacific markets as concerns about slow growth lessen in the region, according to the latest MasterCard Worldwide Index for Consumer Confidence.
Consumers in the region remain most optimistic in the markets of India (82.1 Index points), mainland China (77.4), Viet Nam (77.2) and Thailand (75.8), while the least optimistic markets are Japan (23.6), Taiwan (25.7) and Australia (39.2).
Hong Kong, which dropped 38.7 points in the last Index, improved by 21.9 points to lead the region, followed closely by South Korea (up 21.4 points), Malaysia (up 17.1 points) and New Zealand (up 15.3 points).
Indonesia recorded the single largest fall in consumer confidence (down 18.7 points) followed by the Philippines (down 11.8 points). Consumer confidence in the economy plummeted in Indonesia (from 74.9 to 33.3 points), with employment also falling from 70.6 to 40.8 points.
"The latest reading of consumer confidence in the Asia/Pacific reflects the increasingly complex mix of key influences affecting the region," said Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor at MasterCard Worldwide.
"The first is the global environment, which continues to be weak and riddled with uncertainty, especially in Europe. The second is the slowdown in China, which has been affecting many key regional markets that are China-centric in their exports. The third is the strength of the domestic markets in sustaining growth with home-grown demand."
He said that while the global environment affects all markets in the Asia/Pacific region, the slowdown in mainland China has had a more severe impact on Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
"On the other hand, Viet Nam has been a major beneficiary of low-end manufacturing relocating from China in the recent past," he said.
India, being the least dependent on either global or China demand, is by far the most domestic oriented among the key markets in the region.
"It's relative optimism reflects the perception that the economy has become more stable after growth declining for two years."
Overall, nine out of 14 Asia/Pacific markets polled recorded positive improvements when compared to the second half of 2011, with a regional rise from 52.1 points in the second half of 2011 to 57.2 points in the first half of 2012. The last MasterCard Index of Consumer Confidence showed an improvement in sentiment for only 5 out of the 14 markets. For the region as a whole increases were recorded across all key indicators of regular income (from 64.5 to 71.9 points), employment (49.3 to 54.0 points), economy (49.3 to 51.8 points), quality of life (49.6 to 51.7 points) and stock market (47.9 to 56.5 points).
The index is based on a survey conducted between 24 April 2012 and 10 June 2012 on 11,376 respondents aged 18-64 in 25 countries within the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa. This is the 39th survey of consumer confidence conducted since 1993. Now in its 20th year the index is the Asia/Pacific's most comprehensive and longest running consumer confidence survey. The index score is calculated with zero as the most pessimistic, 100 as most optimistic and 50 as neutral. — VNS