The Westpac Consumer Sentiment slid in April for the second consecutive month to 95.1 percent from March’s 99.1 percent. A level below 100 shows that pessimists outnumber the optimists for the short-term and long-term outlooks.
The consumers’ bias toward economic conditions over the next 12 months and the next five years were reduced by 5.5 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively. Family finances compared to one year ago dropped by 3.8 percent, while family finances over the next 12 months waned by 6.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the unemployment expectations index softened by 1.8 percent, which means that consumer confidence on low unemployment rate is high.
The disappointing and a bit surprising figures squashed hopes that the public’s confidence will follow a considerably optimistic trend because of the previous four consecutive releases above 100.
Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said that consumers are probably seeing the strong Australian dollar as detrimental for future growth. The media and RBA officials have openly said that the AUD may be overvalued.
The low consumer sentiment is offset by China’s hefty trade data which sent the AUD to bullish territory. After a 25.4 percent fall in March 2015, Chinese exports grew by an immense 11.5 percent, surpassing the forecasted 2.5 percent by leaps and bounds. However, it is important to note that the measured period included the Lunar New Year, a considerably lavish celebration by the Chinese.
Chinese imports contracted by 7.6 percent, positively missing the projected 10.2 percent decrease. This leaves the country’s trade balance at $29.86 billion, slimmer than the estimated $34.95 billion.
Mixed statements from Fed officials on Tuesday injected volatility into the US currency as Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker said that he is backing rate hikes this year due to inflation’s fast pace. Meanwhile, Fed Dallas President Robert Kaplan said that an interest rate in April does not bode well for the weak economic growth.
Furthermore, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revised its 2016 economic growth forecast by 0.2 percent, the third consecutive cuts it made since July last year. IMF estimated the US economy to grow by only 2.4 percent this year, lower than January’s 2.6 percent projection.
The AUD has broken into 77 cents in earlier session, but is now back to 0.7670.