Australians seem to be getting gloomier about the economy and major purchases, but they still remain confident they will be better off over the next year.

The latest Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Rating for March released today fell 6.3 points to 109.5, from February and is 11.2 points below the March 2007 result of 120.7. The Roy Morgan group said the latest result is the lowest since September 2006.

The survey was conducted before Tuesday’s 0.25% lift in official interest rates to the Reserve Bank, a decision that was widely expected to happen.

Morgan said there was a “7% decrease in the number of Australians (39%) who consider now a good time to buy major household items – the lowest result since April 2001 – while 29% (up 6%) say now is a bad time to buy.”

That’s an important drop, but those who say it’s a good time still outweigh those who have become worried.

The Reserve Bank would like us to be gloomy about our immediate futures: that our expectations will be lower.

The one big change the RBA wants is a lowering in inflationary expectations: this survey looks at confidence but not expectations about inflation.

Gary Morgan said: “Consumer Confidence in the booming states of Queensland (114.9) and Western Australia (114.6) is well above the national average, whereas confidence in the traditionally strong eastern states of New South Wales (106.7) and Victoria (105.3) is below the average.”

Peter Fray

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