Wednesday 29 April 2015 9:02 pm

Consumer optimism gives mixed signals ahead of General Election as confidence index plateaus

Consumer confidence is high going into the General Election, new figures show today, but has failed to improve on last month.
The consumer confidence index produced by market researchers GfK remained at a score of four in April. Despite confidence failing to improve on March, it is at its highest level for over a decade. At the depths of the financial crisis it neared minus 40. 
GfK managing director Nick Moon said the index score offered the government mixed fortunes. “On the one hand, there is no continuing momentum – the index has not risen since last month – while on the other hand the index is standing at a far higher point than when the government came to power,” he said. 
Survey respondents said they were happier with their personal finances and the general economic situation, but were less likely to make a major purchase than in March.
YouGov yesterday said that confidence had fallen for the first time in April, a further blow to chancellor George Osborne, after figures released earlier this week showed economic growth had slowed to its lowest level since 2012. 
“It is clear that consumers still feel as though the recovery is fragile and that many of them are not feeling it in their wallets,” said Stephen Harmston, head of YouGov.
Meanwhile, economic sentiment in the UK’s biggest export market – the Eurozone – edged down, according to figures published by the European Commission (EC) yesterday.
The EC’s economic sentiment index edged down to 103.7 in April from March’s 103.9.
“It remains to be seen if this is just a correction after recent significant gains, or signs that the improvement in Eurozone activity is levelling off. It could be that heightened concerns over the Greek situation is having some dampening impact on sentiment,” said economist Howard Archer from market analysts IHS. 
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