Consumers are a little uneasy about their personal finances in the lead-up to Christmas, with confidence edging lower.
ANZ and Roy Morgan’s weekly consumer confidence indicator has dipped 0.5 per cent, led by a 6.2 per cent plunge in its “current financial conditions” measure.
Its “future financial conditions” gauge also fell 1.9 per cent.
These falls were partially offset by a recovery in “current economic conditions” which lifted 4.9 per cent, and a 5.2 per cent rise in “time to buy a major household item”.
ANZ head of Australia economics David Plank said it was common for consumer interest in buying big-ticket items to grow in the weeks before Christmas.
The same was true of the Black Friday sales in November, which helped keep the intention-to-spend indicator elevated, he said.
The drop-off in consumer confidence follows three consecutive weeks of gains, but the index remains deep in negative territory based on long-run averages.
The gauge came just hours before the Reserve Bank hiked interest rates by another 25 basis points to 3.1 per cent – the highest level since 2012 and the eighth lift in a row.
Also on Tuesday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released more key inputs for calculating economic growth ahead of national accounts figures on Wednesday.
This includes net exports data, included in the balance of payments report, which showed net exports are expected to shave 0.2 percentage points off growth in the third quarter.
The ABS report also showed a narrowing trade surplus and a wider net income deficit leading to the first current account deficit in almost four years.
BIS Oxford Economics head of macroeconomic forecasting Sean Langcake said the trade balance fell sharply as commodity prices corrected from recent peaks.
In addition, massive mining sector profits saw an uptick in dividend payments to people living outside of Australia, he said.
Terms of trade, the ratio of export prices to import prices, fell 6.6 per cent.
“Commodities prices remain elevated since the beginning of the year, but there has been some normalisation since the initial shock caused by the Russia-Ukraine war,” Mr Langcake said.
With the ingredients now at hand to calculate September quarter GDP, economists have started locking in their forecasts for Wednesday’s data drop.
ANZ economists stuck with their 0.7 per cent quarterly growth forecast, a touch below the 0.6 per cent consensus.
“This is a solid result and suggests the economy had quite a bit of momentum in the September quarter in the early stages of monetary policy tightening,” ANZ economist Felicity Emmett said.
Annual growth is expected to surge by more than six per cent from the low base in the third quarter of 2021 caused by lockdowns.
(Australian Associated Press)