Consumer Confidence Rises in US, Falls in China and Russia, Survey Says

(Los Angeles Times/TNS) —

Consumer confidence in the U.S. edged up in the first quarter of the year, while sentiment in some other big nations including China and Russia fell, according to a survey.

Around the world, confidence climbed or stayed stable in every region except Latin America, said Nielsen’s global index of consumers and spending. A drop in oil prices is helping some countries while hurting others.

“Compared to the end of last year when all regional confidence scores declined, it was a more upbeat start to the year,” the report concluded.

Among the world’s biggest economies, Japan showed the biggest increase, hitting its highest confidence level since 2005. India and Taiwan also saw a jump in consumer sentiment, giving an overall boost to the Asia-Pacific region despite a slight slump in China.

The United States enjoyed a slight bump in confidence, aided by brighter job prospects and lower gas prices, the report said. However, retail sales were flat in April, the Commerce Department said, indicating that many shoppers are still cautious about spending.

“Half of Americans are still in a recessionary mindset,” said James Russo, senior vice president of Nielsen Global Consumer Insights. “Nearly 35 percent say they live paycheck to paycheck.”

That kind of caution also extends around the world.

Despite generally rising confidence, many people are still planning to spend less on discretionary categories including vacations and new clothes. The one exception are millennials, especially those 25 to 29 years old, who will outspend other groups.

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