May 30, 2012 / 11:03 PM / in 6 years

UK consumers perk up, more upbeat about outlook -GfK

LONDON, May 31 (Reuters) - British consumer confidence picked up in May, propelled by a marked easing of pessimism about the future, a survey by GfK NOP showed on Thursday, pointing to some resilience in a major driver of the economy.

The survey’s headline index ticked up to -29, a level last reached in February, from -31 in April. The reading contrasted with economists’ forecast for a dip to -32, although the index was still weaker than a year ago and far below its average since 1974 of -9.

“After the revised (official GDP) figures showed the economy is deeper in recession than previously thought, the government will view these figures as good news,” said Nick Moon, Managing Director of Social Research at GfK.

“However, while this rise is indeed positive, consumer confidence remains mired in the very negative position it has been in for almost 18 months,” he added.

A slump in construction output plunged Britain even deeper into recession than initially thought in the first quarter of this year, data showed last week.

Consumer spending - which drives about 60 percent of Britain’s gross domestic product - added 0.1 percentage point to quarter-on-quarter GDP growth between January and March, when consumer morale hovered around -30 on the GfK measure.

And the economy’s prospects look brighter. A breakdown of the GfK poll showed that consumers were least downbeat about economic outlook over the coming year since last June and their sentiment about their finances over the next 12 months also improved.

However, consumers felt that the climate for major purchases worsened slightly in May.

GfK interviewed almost 2,000 people on behalf of the European Commission between May 4 and May 13.

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