Australian consumer sentiment dipped in April

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A measure of Australian consumer sentiment eased slightly in April as worries about the future for family finances just managed to offset optimism about the economic outlook.

A Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank survey of 1,200 people published on Wednesday showed its index of consumer sentiment dipped 0.6 percent in April, from March when it rose 0.2 percent.

The index was still up 3.4 percent on March last year at 102.4, meaning optimists just outnumbered pessimists.

Sluggish wage growth, rising living costs and high levels of household debt have been weighing on the consumer mood, offsetting broad-based strength in employment.

The concerns showed in a sharp 5.8 percent drop in the survey’s index of family finances over the next 12 months, which outweighed gains in all the other measures.

Indeed, the index of family finances compared to a year ago rose 2.5 percent. The survey’s barometer of economic conditions over the next 12 months edged up 0.6 percent and the outlook for the next five years bounced 2.9 percent.

Consumers remained reluctant to spend freely, with the index of whether it was a good time to buy a major household item down 1.8 percent.

The index on whether it was a good time to buy a dwelling dipped 0.5 percent in April, but was still up 8 percent on a year ago.

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