Britons more bullish on jobs and outlook

BRITISH consumers are more confident about the future economic situation and sentiment about the present has also improved, the Nationwide consumer confidence survey will say today.<br /><br />The survey indicates that all the confidence indices rose during August with the expectations index rising by three points to 94. <br /><br />The present situation index, which has generally been falling since the end of 2007, rose by one point in August to 17 &ndash; the first time this index has increased since April 2009. <br /><br />Martin Gahbauer, Nationwide&rsquo;s chief economist, said: &ldquo;The rise in positive sentiment across all the indices is no surprise as a number of key economic indicators continue to show that we may have reached the bottom of the current recessionary cycle.&rdquo; <br /><br />However, he warned that we may see some volatility as factors such as the rise in fuel duty affect sentiment.<br /><br />Consumers are also more confident about the jobs market with a two point fall in the percentage of consumers who think that not many jobs are currently available and a four point drop in those who think there will be few jobs on offer in six months time. <br /><br />Nonetheless, consumers are still cautious about making major purchases. The number of those believing now is a good time to make a major purchase such as a house or car fell from 35 per cent in July to 33 per cent in August. <br /><br />Expectations about house price rises over the next six months fell slightly in August. Consumers now expect the value of their homes to increase by 0.2 per cent over the next six months, compared with 0.5 per cent in July. <br /><br />Meanwhile, deflation has arrived on the high street, according to new data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). <br /><br />Overall, shop prices fell 0.1 per cent in August compared to the previous month when prices rose by 0.5 per cent. Deflation has been driven by a sharp fall in food inflation.<br /><br />The news follows national data showing Britain&rsquo;s economy has finally started to grow again. The UK&rsquo;s GDP rose by an estimated 0.2 per cent.