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Confidence surges ahead on buoyant hopes for economy

CONSUMER confidence leapt ahead in September to its highest level since April last year, riding on improved housing market data and hopes that the worst of the recession is over, the Nationwide Building Society said today.<br /><br />Nationwide&rsquo;s monthly consumer confidence index rose by six points in September to 71, taking it to 24 points higher than it was a year ago. The index rose two points to 63 in August.<br /><br />The building society said expectations about the future of the economy were now &ldquo;buoyant&rdquo; and pessimism about the labour market situation is starting to decrease, while positive news about the housing market and the strong equity market rally have also helped to boost confidence.<br /><br />But Mark Saddleton, Nationwide&rsquo;s head of economic and market analysis, warned that consumers will be slow to act on improvements in key economic indicators.<br /><br />&ldquo;Consumers&rsquo; assessment of the present situation is still fairly downbeat and, while they do appear to be optimistic for the future, it is likely that any recovery will continue to be sluggish as they adapt to the economic environment,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />The September survey showed that 39 per cent of respondents believe that the economic situation will have picked up in six months&rsquo; time, compared to just 17 per cent at the start of the year.<br /><br />Consumers also expect the value of their home to increase by an average of 1.2 per cent over the next six months, compared to a result of just 0.2 per cent in August.