Australia consumer sentiment holds up as Sydney locks down

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers wearing protective face masks line up to scan a QR code before entering a store on the first day of eased coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions for the state of Victoria following an extended lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, June 11, 2021. REUTERS/Sandra Sanders

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A measure of Australian consumer sentiment rebounded in July as relief at the end of coronavirus lockdowns in some states offset the latest shutdown in Sydney, at least for now.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute index of consumer sentiment released on Wednesday rose 1.5%, recouping a little of June’s 5.2% drop.

That left the index up 23.8% on July last year when the country was still emerging from a round of nationwide lockdowns. The index reading of 108.8 showed optimists outnumbered pessimists.

“Confidence has held up overall despite a sharp fall in NSW as other states – notably Victoria and Western Australia – recorded strong bounce-backs from COVID-related disruptions in June,” said Westpac chief economist Bill Evans.

“The main takeaway is that concerns around the current virus outbreak and associated restrictions in NSW are not spilling over to the rest of the country.”

The survey was conducted over the week of July 5-9, when Sydney was also locked down but restrictions were tightened further on July 9.

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