DUBLIN (Reuters) – Irish consumer sentiment inched higher in June following strong domestic economic data, but households remained nervous about their finances for the coming year, a survey showed on Monday.
Ireland has been Europe’s fastest growing economy for the past five years, but consumer confidence has fluctuated sharply in the past year amid concern neighbouring Britain might leave the European Union without a replacement trade deal.
The KBC Bank consumer sentiment index rose to 90.7 in June from 89.9 in May. That was up from a 51-month low of 86.5 in February and still far short of the 12-month high of 107.6 last July.
The survey’s authors said confidence had been boosted by strong domestic economic data in recent months, including a fall in unemployment to its lowest rate in over 10 years.
“A renewed focus on the risk of a ‘hard Brexit’ from October 31st may see sentiment sour again,” KBC Bank Ireland chief economist Austin Hughes said, referring to Britain’s current planned EU exit date.
“However, in the near term, an element of Brexit fatigue may be causing consumers to switch attention away from such risks to the reality of healthy Irish economic conditions at present.”
Consumers were marginally more positive about the outlook for the Irish economy and jobs than they were in May and about how their own household finances had developed in the past twelve months, the survey showed.
But some Brexit related nervousness was hinted at in a slightly weaker view of household finances over the next twelve months, the authors said.
(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)