DUBLIN, (Reuters) – Irish consumer sentiment weakened for the third month in a row in September as the failure of the UK and the European Union to agree divorce terms ahead of the Oct. 31 Brexit date increased worries about the outlook for the Irish economy.
Ireland is considered the EU country with most to lose from Brexit, although after growing faster than any other in the bloc every year since 2014 and with record-high employment, its economy is in good shape ahead of potential disruptions. Consumer confidence has taken a hit as the negotiations meander towards a no-deal British exit, however, and the KBC Bank consumer sentiment index sank to 75.3 in September from 77.2 in August — the lowest level in almost six years. The last time the KBC sentiment index was lower was in November 2013, when the index stood at 71. KBC Bank Ireland chief economist Austin Hughes said the survey paints a picture of anxious Irish consumers who could be further unsettled if the upcoming budget creates a sense of panic about the possibility of tougher times to come.
“Four of the five main components of the KBC Irish consumer sentiment were lower in September than in August,” he said. Hughes said the only element to improve was consumers’ assessment of the buying climate which rose marginally. He believes this reflects broadly positive employment dynamics and wage growth in the Irish economy.
(Reporting by Graham Fahy; Editing by Catherine Evans)