Confidence bottoms out
CONSUMER sentiment has fallen to its lowest level in nine months on higher petrol prices and concerns about tax issues, a survey shows. The WestpacMelbourne Institute index of consumer sentiment fell 2.4 per cent to 104.1 points in March, following a 1.9 per cent increase in February. While the index is 11.3 per cent below its level a year ago, any reading above 100 points shows the number of optimists still outweighs the number of pessimists. Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said the result was weaker than expected. ‘‘ It is the lowest read since June 2010 after three consecutive rate hikes and controversy over the mining tax,’’ Mr Evans said.