SINGAPORE: Consumer confidence continues to grow in Southeast Asia, hitting a seven-year high in the first quarter, according to the latest data from Nielsen.

The research company's Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions showed that the region – which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – remains among the most optimistic in the world, returning an index of 114 in the first three months of 2015, some 17 points above the global average.

"The typical consumer in Southeast Asia is demonstrating a level of confidence that far outstrips their global counterparts," said Kaushal Upadhyay, Nielsen's executive director of client service in Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific, in remarks reported by Mumbrella.

"This sentiment is underpinned by a positive outlook for job prospects, which have shown an improving trend in every market except Thailand," he added.

"Consumers are also feeling positive about their personal finances, and by extension disposable income, which is helping to drive overall sentiment and highlights potential increases in consumer spending."

Individually, Indonesia was the region's most optimistic country, with a Q1 index of 123, up three points on the previous quarter. In second place was the Philippines, with an index of 115, although this was a five point drop on Q4 2014; it was also the only country in the region to see a decline in confidence.

At the other end of the spectrum, Malaysia reported a sharp five-point increase in confidence, although its index of 94 still left it below the baseline score of 100.

Singapore remained steady on 100, while Thailand rose two points to 114 and Vietnam four points to 112.

Very few people in the region indicated that they had no spare cash and, being financially prudent, most planned to put some money into savings, which intention emerged as by far the most significant, ahead of other areas such as holidays and new clothes.

There was a mixed picture for the two major countries in the wider Asia Pacific region: India's index score advanced one point to 130, marking the sixth consecutive quarter confidence has risen; China slipped one point to 106, following a four point decline in Q4 2014.

Data sourced from PR Newswire, Mumbrella; additional content by Warc staff