Sen­ti­ment:

Sur­vey points to im­prov­ing con­sumer and busi­ness sen­ti­ment mainly in Dublin Fig­ures still lower than this time last year with house prices ex­pected to rise

The Irish Times - - Front Page - FIONA REDDAN

A sur­vey shows there was no bud­get bounce even as con­sumer and busi­ness at­ti­tudes im­proved, es­pe­cially in Dublin:

Con­sumers may have been of­fered some re­lief in the form of (mar­ginal) tax cuts in this month’s bud­get, but it wasn’t enough to send their eco­nomic con­fi­dence soar­ing, a new sur­vey re­veals.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bank of Ire­land Eco­nomic Pulse, which polls both house­holds and busi­nesses on their fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion and spend­ing plans, con­sumer con­fi­dence and busi­ness sen­ti­ment was up by 1.7 from Septem­ber to 90.5 in Oc­to­ber, but it still re­mains four points lower than this time last year.

Dr Loretta O’Sullivan, group chief econ­o­mist with Bank of Ire­land, said that the uptick in sen­ti­ment looks to be “less of a bud­get bounce than an un­wind­ing of last month’s tem­po­rary set­back on the con­sumer side, and greater pos­i­tiv­ity among re­tail­ers, which may be partly re­lated to the time of the year and firms hir­ing for the Christ­mas pe­riod”.

Most up­beat

When looked at from a re­gional per­spec­tive, it seems that house­holds and busi­nesses in Dublin are the most up­beat, with sen­ti­ment down on the month in the rest of Le­in­ster, Mun­ster, Con­nacht and Ul­ster.

The sur­vey shows that, over­all, house­holds are more pos­i­tive about the econ­omy and the out­look for un­em­ploy­ment this month; how­ever, their as­sess­ment of their own fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion was lit­tle-changed de­spite the small ad­vances made in Bud­get

2018.

One area where there was more pos­i­tiv­ity – or neg­a­tiv­ity, depend­ing on which side of the fence you sit on – is house prices.

House­holds ex­pect the up­wards tra­jec­tory in both rents and house prices to con­tinue, with more peo­ple now ex­pect­ing an­nual price in­creases of more than 5 per cent.

Buoy­ancy

Al­most three-quar­ters of re­spon­dents in Dublin say now is a good time to sell a house, with just 40 per cent think­ing it’s a good time to buy; this com­pares with na­tional fig­ures of 63 per cent and 49 per cent, re­spec­tively.

This buoy­ancy in house prices is also feed­ing into peo­ple’s con­fi­dence to spend money on ren­o­va­tions; the sur­vey shows that one in four is likely to spend a large sum of money do­ing up or ren­o­vat­ing an ex­ist­ing prop­erty over the com­ing year.

While busi­ness sen­ti­ment im­proved on Septem­ber, it is still lower than this time last year, weighed down by in­dus­try and ser­vices sen­ti­ment, as the data pointed to some soft­en­ing in ex­port or­ders for the com­ing three months.

The weak­ness of the pound also re­mains a key con­cern, as does Brexit-re­lated un­cer­tainty.

This will have a knock-on ef­fect on con­sumers, with just two in five busi­nesses in­di­cat­ing that they ex­pect to in­crease ba­sic pay over the next 12 months.

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