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OUTLOOK: WEEK AHEAD

-UK Mar GfK Consumer Confidence Index -7 Vs -10 Feb
By Jamie Satchithanantham
     LONDON (MNI) - March saw UK consumer confidence tick up to the highest
level since last May, with consumers more bullish on their personal finances and
less pessimistic about the general economic situation, a survey published
Thursday showed.
     The GfK March Consumer Confidence Index edged up three points to -7 from
-10 in March, with every single survey component climbing higher on the month.
While the index has sat in negative territory for a month shy of two years, the
March outturn was the best since last May (-5) and only the third result above
-10 since last July.   
     Consumers were significantly more happy with the outlook of their personal
finances. The Personal Financial Situation index, tilted to the forthcoming
year, rose 5 points to +10, above the +3 result recorded in March 2017.
     This rise in confidence may have also explained why consumers were more
inclined to make a big purchase in March. The Major Purchase Index rose 2 points
to +2, suggesting consumers were happier to make an outlay on a big ticket
purchase like furniture or electrical items. 
     Alongside this, the Savings Index also gained ground in March, up a single
point to +13. While a high intention to save may indicate that consumers are
reluctant to spend it could also suggest that they have enough disposable income
to set aside a little more for a rainy day. 
     Official data has shown upward revisions to the household savings ratio,
which for months was depleted as households took out debt to fund their
consumption.  
     Data from the National Accounts, also released Thursday, will highlight
whether the household savings ratio moved away from its current level of 5.5%
over the Oct-Dec period as well as whether household spending picked up after a
modest Q3 showing.           
     The general economic outlook was less of a concern for consumers in March
with the General Economic Situation Index, gauging prospective conditions over
the next 12 months, rose four points to -22. 
     The GfK Consumer Confidence Index plunged after the June 2016 vote to leave
the EU and resided around the -10 mark for much of 2017. 
     "Despite the Beast from the East leaving the nation shivering under a
blanket of snow, stoic UK consumers turned faintly bullish this March with a
three-point uptick in the Overall Index Score to -7," Joe Staton, Head of Market
Dynamics at GfK, said.
     The survey was conducted from March 1 to 15, with the first few days
including the exceptionally cold weather snap labelled the 'Beast from the
East'.
     "The prospect of wage rises finally outstripping declining inflation, high
levels of employment with low-level interest rates, and finally some movement on
the Brexit front appear to have boosted our spirits," he added. 
--MNI London Bureau; +44 203-586-2226; email: jamie.satchithanantham@marketnews.com
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2223; email: david.robinson@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: MABDS$,M$B$$$,M$E$$$]
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 | les.commons@marketnews.com