House prices buoy the consumer sentiment index
AFTER a modest fall last month the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index has returned to be back near its previous peaks in 2013 registered in March and September. These are the highest reads since the July-December period in 2010 when the Index averaged an impressive 114. It is encouraging that the Index has returned to these levels after it surged 4.7 per cent in September following the election result. The survey was conducted in a week when the Reserve Bank kept rates on hold and the unemployment rate was reported to have held at 5.7 per cent. Importantly, house prices were reported to have risen by 1.9 per cent in the September quarter.. This theme around the impact of house prices on confidence was apparent in the state measures. State Consumer Sentiment Indexes were up 7.7 per cent in NSW and 3.2 per cent in WA but rose only 0.9 per cent in Victoria.