Consumer confidence climbs in Asia

22 December 2009

SINGAPORE: A majority of consumers in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa are optimistic about their personal prospects over the next six months.

According to the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence, which was based on a survey of 10,623 people, residents in 21 of the 24 countries assessed in these areas are currently positive in outlook.

Perceptions were most favourable in Vietnam, with an index score of 90.0 points, followed by Nigeria, on 89.4 points, Qatar, on 89.2 points, the UAE, on 86.1 points, and China, on 85.3 points.

However, the organisation's poll was conducted before the recent financial turmoil in Dubai, and it thus noted that the climate in the UAE may have altered somewhat in recent times.

Singapore recorded one of the most pronounced overall jumps in confidence, with its barometer reading leaping from 31.2 points in the first half of this year to 79.4 points in H2. 

The other nations posting upticks on this measure included New Zealand, climbing from 21.5 points to 69.7 points, and Australia, rising from 24.1 points to 69.5 points.

Japan registered a total of 24.4 points, and was the most negative country of those assessed, a position it has taken for 30 of the 34 polls MasterCard has undertaken in the last 17 years.

Kenya, on 47.9 points, and the Philippines, on 49.7 points, also exhibited high levels of pessimism, the financial services specialist said.

Similarly, South Africa and Lebanon were among the markets where popular sentiment had declined compared with the first six months of this year.

Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, an economic advisor to MasterCard Worldwide, argued "conditions have improved especially fast" in the Asia Pacific region.

"While a V-shaped economic recovery remains unlikely, the same cannot be said for consumer confidence as it appears to be a V-shaped rebound in confidence," he added.

"This is to the extent that the renewed confidence leads to lower precautionary savings and higher spending, then business outlook will improve; thereby encouraging more investment. This will contribute to the momentum of recovery."

Data sourced from MasterCard; additional content by Warc staff