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UK consumer confidence slips unexpectedly in May: GfK

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British consumer morale fell unexpectedly this month as optimism about the economy in the next 12 months faded fast, according to a survey on Friday from market research company GfK.

[LONDON] British consumer morale fell unexpectedly this month as optimism about the economy in the next 12 months faded fast, according to a survey on Friday from market research company GfK.

GfK said its monthly consumer confidence index, compiled mostly after the Conservative Party unexpectedly won a national election this month, slipped to +1 from +4 in April. Economists polled by Reuters had expected an unchanged reading.

Optimism about the economic situation over the next 12 month fell to its lowest level since January, while Britons also become less upbeat about their personal financial prospects. "In the short term, this suggests that despite rewarding them with a majority in the House of Commons, the public are not too confident about economic life under the Conservatives," said Nick Moon, managing director of social research at GfK.

He added that it was "worrying" that the index measuring economic optimism was now only one point higher than its level a year ago, having dropped six points in May alone.

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Britain's economy grew just 0.3 per cent in the first three months of this year, according to official data on Thursday that cast doubt on the strength of Britain's previously robust recovery.

However, other surveys of British consumer confidence released this week have painted a more upbeat picture than the GfK report.

One from polling firm YouGov and economics consultancy Cebr showed consumer morale rose to its highest level in more than a year, while data company Nielsen said confidence hit a nine-year high in the first quarter of this year.

Most economists polled by Reuters expect economic growth will quicken after a slow start to the year.

A quarterly survey of British service sector businesses from the Confederation of British Industry, also published on Friday, pointed to strong confidence and activity in the three months to May, which the CBI said boded well for economic growth.

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