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Australian consumer sentiment falls back in August: survey
[SYDNEY] A measure of Australian consumer sentiment fell back in August, undoing some of the previous month's surprise jump, as the mood on the economic outlook turned more cautious.
The Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank index of consumer sentiment fell 2.3 per cent in August, versus July when it climbed 3.9 per cent.
Wednesday's index, compiled from a survey of 1,200 people, was still up 8.6 per cent on August last year at 103.6, meaning optimists continued to outnumber pessimists.
"Despite the latest decline, the Index is still in positive territory overall, 5.5 per cent above the average in 2014 to 2017," said Westpac chief economist, Bill Evans.
"August marks the ninth successive month that the index has been above the 100 level."
In a reversal from July, the survey's measure of economic conditions for the next 12 months dropped 4.9 per cent, and the measure for the next five years lost 3.1 per cent.
Measures of personal finances also eased. The index of family finances compared to a year ago dipped 0.5 per cent and the outlook for the next 12 months fell 1.1 per cent.
The index of whether it was a good time to buy a major household item eased 1.7 per cent, undoing all of July's gain.
Consumers were less upbeat on the outlook for jobs, expecting little change in the unemployment rate over the next year or so.
Views around buying a home improved in August as prices fell in Sydney and Melbourne, with that index rising 5.5 per cent to be up 15 per cent on a year earlier. The index reached its highest since September 2016 at 108.8.