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Consumer confidence at highest level since 2008, report finds

By Audrey Watson

Consumer confidence in Northern Ireland has bounced back to its highest level since 2008, according to the latest Danske Bank report.

The confidence index rose 14 points over the third quarter of the year, bringing it to 142 - 12 points higher than the same period in 2014.

The Danske Bank Consumer Confidence Report also revealed that expectations for spending and future finances saw the largest increase, with a rise in the number of positive responses and a fall in the number of negative responses.

Many people indicated that they expect to increase spending in the run up to Christmas. The proportion of consumers planning to spend less money fell to a record low of 20% - down 6% since the last quarter and down 8% over the year.

This compares to March and September 2011 when 48% of respondents planned to spend less.

Commenting on the report, Danske Bank's chief economist Angela McGowan said: "Given the second quarter dip in confidence levels following the general election and the problems associated with the Stormont Executive, it is great to see this latest rebound.

"Low inflation and rising real wages are undoubtedly part of this positive story. However, a note of caution must be sounded in terms of how long low inflation will persist." Confidence in job security also rose relative to the previous quarter and relative to last year.

Confidence levels rose across all regions in Northern Ireland and Belfast remained the most confident region, followed by the North and then the Greater Belfast Area. The lowest confidence levels were observed in the south region and the North West.

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