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UK consumer confidence falls as election nears: YouGov

[LONDON] British consumer confidence fell this month for the first time since December, according to a survey that will disappoint Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of next week's national election.

Polling firm YouGov and economics consultancy CEBR said their measure of consumer confidence fell to 113.1 in April from 113.9 in March, more than a point lower than it was this time last year. "With the election just over a week away, the dip in consumer slow down, it is clear confidence has come at exactly the wrong time for the government," said Stephen Harmston, head of YouGov Reports.

The survey followed official data on Tuesday that showed economic growth slowed sharply in the first three months of this year. "As the GDP figures slow down, 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," Mr Harmston said.

With inflation at zero, a gradual recovery in pay is giving some relief to workers who suffered an almost unprecedented loss of spending power during Mr Cameron's five-year term.

But his Conservative Party remains deadlocked in opinion polls with the main opposition Labour Party which says Britain remains in the grip of a cost of living crisis.

The survey also showed that Britons felt their household finances had strengthened over the past five years, albeit from a low starting point.

A closely watched gauge of consumer confidence from polling firm GfK due on Thursday is expected to show morale held at a 12-year high in April, according to economists taking part in a Reuters poll.

A seasonally adjusted version of the GfK survey, released by the European Commission on Wednesday, showed Britain's economic sentiment indicator rose to 113.1 in April from 111.1 in March.