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Australian consumer sentiment eroded by bushfires in January

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Australian consumer sentiment fell again in January as bushfires ravaged the country killing 29 people, millions of animals and destroying thousands of homes, a troubling omen for the country's struggling economy.

[SYDNEY] Australian consumer sentiment fell again in January as bushfires ravaged the country killing 29 people, millions of animals and destroying thousands of homes, a troubling omen for the country's struggling economy.

Wednesday's survey showed the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank index of consumer sentiment fell 1.8 per cent in January, from December when it declined 1.9 per cent.

The index was down a hefty 6.2 per cent from a year earlier, and at 93.4 indicated pessimists continued to outnumber optimists.

"Confidence has been further eroded by the bushfires but because the index was starting from such a modest level it was likely that the fall in confidence would be less than some may have expected," Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said in a statement.

"This low level of confidence is consistent with the generally lacklustre reports on consumer spending."

REUTERS