[SYDNEY] A measure of Australian consumer sentiment fell for a second month in April amid concerns about the economy and family finances, perhaps linked to media speculation about what cutbacks might be in a looming government budget.
The survey of 1,200 people by the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank showed its index of consumer sentiment dropped 4 per cent in April, from March.
That left the index 1.1 per cent down on April last year at 95.1, meaning pessimists outnumbered optimists.
The Liberal National government of Malcolm Turnbull releases the 2016/17 budget on May 3 and has promised to "live within its means" to tackle years of deficits.
The consumer gloom was a marked contrast to a survey of Australian businesses out on Tuesday that showed they were enjoying the best conditions in eight years, with sales, profits and employment all rising.
Analysts tend to put more store on surveys of actual business conditions rather than consumer sentiment which tend to swings around a lot and often say little about actual spending habits.
It was notable that the April survey actually showed respondents were more confident about buying major household items even while fretting about their finances.
The index of family finances compared to a year ago fell 3.9 per cent in the month, while the outlook for the 12 months ahead dropped 6.6 per cent.
Expectations for the economic outlook over the next 12 months sank 5.5 per cent, while the outlook for the next five years slipped 6.0 per cent.