SYDNEY, March 13 (Reuters) - A measure of Australian consumer confidence slumped to its lowest in over a year in March as gloomy media coverage of disappointing economic news took a heavy toll on the national mood.
Wednesday’s survey showed the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank index of consumer sentiment fell 4.8 percent in March, unwinding a 4.3 percent jump in February.
The index, compiled from a survey of 1,200 people, was down 4 percent from a year earlier at 98.8, meaning pessimists now outnumbered optimists.
Respondents appeared to be reacting to data showing the Australian economy slowed sharply in the December quarter of last year, which many in the media referred to as a “per capita recession”.
“The survey detail indicates that this had a significant negative impact on confidence,” said Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan. “Responses over the survey week show a marked drop-off after the national accounts update.”
He noted responses collected before the March 6 release had a combined index read of 100.7, while those collected after the release had a combined read of 92.7, a drop of 8 percent. (Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Sam Holmes)