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UK consumer morale edges down as economic outlook clouds -GfK

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British consumer morale edged down for a second month in October as households showed less faith in the outlook for the economy, a survey by researchers GfK showed on Friday.

[LONDON] British consumer morale edged down for a second month in October as households showed less faith in the outlook for the economy, a survey by researchers GfK showed on Friday.

GfK's headline consumer confidence index fell in October to -2 from -1 in September, as expected. While the reading was the weakest in three months, the index was still close to a nine-year high of +1 touched in August and June.

Confidence about the economy's prospects over the next 12 months was at its lowest level since February, however, echoing recent data that show Britain's rapid economic recovery has slowed in the second half of this year.

Nick Moon, GfK's managing director for social research, said it looked as though time was running out to see a significant improvement in consumer morale before May's national election. "It is likely that people will have to start feeling personally better off if the index is to get solidly into positive territory," he said.

The Conservative Party that leads Britain's ruling coalition hopes recent strong economic performance will convince voters to keep it in power. But the opposition Labour party says most Britons are not seeing the benefits of the recovery because wage growth remains minimal.

October's decline in the index was driven by a fall in three of its five main components, with the major purchases index slipping to its lowest level since March.

However, a separate consumer confidence survey from research group Nielsen on Friday showed consumer confidence hit its highest level since the third quarter of 2007, around the start of the financial crisis. "Confidence is moving in the right direction, but the fact remains, as a whole, Britons are still pessimistic about what's ahead," said Nielsen UK managing director Steve Smith, adding that those positive about jobs and finances are in the minority.

The GfK survey was conducted between Oct 1 and Oct 6 on behalf of the European Commission.

REUTERS