Worldwide consumer squeeze

Consumers in most countries globally look set to keep a tight grip on spending in coming months as they worry about job security and rising inflation, according to a Nielsen Company survey released yesterday. Almost half (45 per cent) of Americans foresee a weak economic environment this year, compared with 38 per cent of Europeans and 19 per cent of consumers in the Asia Pacific, the survey revealed. Consumer confidence was positive at the end of last year in only 14 out of 52 countries surveyed worldwide. The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index's average score, however, was unchanged from the third quarter at 90, helped by sharp jumps in confidence in Norway, Turkey and Switzerland as well as the Philippines. A reading below 100 signals pessimism about the economic outlook.