Brexit and Trump weigh on consumers

Consumers are less confident about the economy this month than they were in January, as Brexit and US President Donald Trump’s protectionist rhetoric played on their minds.

But the latest Bank of Ireland Economic Pulse shows that businesses were slightly more upbeat, with continuing evidence that the economy is improving, and employment rising.

The Bank of Ireland Economic Pulse stood at 92.6 this month.

The index, which combines the results of the Consumer and Business Pulses, was down 0.6 points on January and 4.4 points lower than this time a year ago.

The Consumer Pulse index lost ground this month, touching 89.8, which is 4.6 points lower than in January.

A third of consumers surveyed this month thought it was a good time to buy big-ticket items such as furniture and electrical goods. In January, 44pc thought it was a good time to do so.

At 93.2, the Business Pulse index was broadly unchanged on January’s reading but mixed across the sectors.

Loretta O’Sullivan, Bank of Ireland group chief economist, said while the weak pound should cut import prices, recent rising oil prices were resulting in higher input costs for many firms.
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