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Job Optimism Reaches 50 Percent Globally for the First Time since 2007; Global Consumer Confidence Advances Again in Q2 2014

Global consumer confidence increased one index point to 97 in the second quarter of 2014, the highest score since Q1 2007, according to consumer confidence findings from Nielsen. This follows a two-point increase at the start of the year that marked the global index’s first return to pre-recession levels. Additionally, half of global respondents believed the job market would be good or excellent in the upcoming year, a 1-percentage-point increase from the first quarter and a level not reached since 2007.

In conjunction with the second-quarter index release, Nielsen is unveiling a new interactive data visualization tool based on nine years of historical global consumer confidence data, which spans 60 countries and represents a global online population of some 2 billion consumers. The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Trend Tracker allows users to select a variety of different data points related to consumer economic sentiment to create dynamic visualizations by region, country, issue, and time period.

Among the world’s biggest economies, consumer confidence increased six points over Q1 2014 in Italy (51), four points in the U.S. (104), three points in the U.K. (90), and one point in France (60). China’s consumer confidence remained flat at 111, while confidence declined eight points in Japan (73) and three points in Germany (96) compared to the previous quarter.

Regional consumer confidence increased three and two points, respectively, in North America (103) and Europe (77), compared to the first quarter. Confidence was highest in the Asia-Pacific region, which held steady from the first quarter at 106. Confidence declined over the previous quarter in Latin America (90) and the Middle East/Africa (93), decreasing three points and one point, respectively.

"Steady gains across confidence metrics within parts of Europe and buoyant increases in North America strike a positive note with regard to economic recovery in mature markets," said Dr. Venkatesh Bala, chief economist at The Cambridge Group, a division of Nielsen. "The key to continued sustained economic expansion, however, will be further strengthening of the job market, which is vital for increased consumer spending."

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, established in 2005, measures consumer confidence, major concerns, and spending intentions among more than 30,000 respondents with Internet access1 in 60 countries. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.

In the latest round of the survey, conducted May 12–30, 2014, consumer confidence increased in 52 percent of markets measured by Nielsen, compared to 60 percent in the previous quarter (Q1 2014). India (128) increased seven points to report the highest consumer confidence index score, surpassing Indonesia (123), which had topped the index for five consecutive quarters. Portugal reported the lowest consumer confidence score (48), a decline of three points compared to the first quarter. Hong Kong (103) and Japan (73) each reported an eight-point decrease over the previous quarter.

Global Job Outlook Continues to Improve

Positive perceptions about local job prospects over the next 12 months increased in the second quarter in every region except Latin America. North America reported the biggest quarterly surge in job optimism, increasing 8 percentage points to 46 percent.

More than half (56%) of global respondents viewed their personal finances positively, a slight increase from the past three consecutive quarters in which it held steady at 55 percent. North America reported the biggest regional increase, with 63 percent of respondents feeling secure in money matters over the next 12 months, up from 59 percent in the first quarter. Latin America reported the only decline, with 60 percent believing the state of their finances was good or excellent, down from 63 percent in the previous quarter. At 39 percent, European respondents were least confident about finances.

Highlights from Around the World

In North America, U.S. consumer confidence continued an upward trend that began in first-quarter 2013 and has since registered an 11-point increase. Almost half of Americans (49%) believed it was a good/excellent time to spend, the highest level reported since 2006 and an increase of 6 percentage points from the first quarter. While the outlook for jobs (46%) was still below pre-recession levels (63%), the sentiment represents a significant improvement from the height of the recession in 2009, when it was at 20 percent. Confidence also increased in Canada, rising three points to 102 in the second quarter after declines over several previous quarters.

In Europe, consumer confidence increased in 72 percent of markets measured in the second quarter, with only six of 32 markets reporting declines. Denmark (106), Belgium (80), Romania (73), and Italy (51) were each up six points compared to the first quarter, and the Netherlands (81), Ukraine (61), and Croatia (50) each reported five-point increases compared to the previous quarter. Other notable confidence improvements included a year-over-year increase of 11 points in the U.K. to a score of 90—the country’s highest level since 2007. Russia’s index also increased for three consecutive quarters to a score of 85 in the second quarter. France’s confidence rose for the second consecutive quarter to 60.

In Asia-Pacific, confidence in India (128) increased seven points over the previous quarter, the biggest increase of the 60 countries measured. Confidence also increased in the Philippines (120), South Korea (53), and Malaysia (93) and held steady in China for a third consecutive quarter at 111. Australia’s index (85) fell four points compared to the first quarter, its third straight quarterly decrease and the country’s lowest score since Nielsen began measuring consumer confidence in 2005.

Confidence in the Latin America region declined for the second consecutive quarter, as index scores fell in six of the seven countries measured. Colombia reported the only regional confidence increase, climbing two points to 95, compared to the first quarter. Brazil (100), Chile (92) and Venezuela (72) declined six points each in the second quarter. Also reporting declines were Peru (98) and Argentina (68), which dropped three points each, and Mexico (85), which fell one point. The job outlook declined in all seven countries, with Chile dropping 10 percentage points; Brazil, 7 points; and Argentina, 6 points. Latin Americans who felt recessionary sentiments increased from 62 percent in the previous quarter to 67 percent in Q2 2014.

In the Middle East/Africa, Confidence was still high and above the baseline in the United Arab Emirates (109 index points)—the highest level in the region—despite declining five points in the second quarter. Egypt (81) also reported a drop of six points compared to the first quarter. South Africa posted the only regional confidence increase, climbing three points to 85, and confidence held steady in Saudi Arabia (102) and Pakistan (99).

Confidence increased in the second quarter in all three sub-Saharan Africa markets measured—Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana. Nigeria’s consumer confidence score was highest, rising one point to 121, and Ghana’s score increased the most, jumping six points to 103. Kenya also reported an above-the-baseline index of 111, an increase of one point in the second quarter.2

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted May 12-30, 2014, and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users, is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60-percent Internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion. The China Consumer Confidence Index is compiled from a separate mixed methodology survey among 3,500 respondents in China. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.

About Nielsen

Nielsen (NYSE:NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.

1 While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration has not reached majority potential, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. Additionally, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data.

2 These three sub-Saharan African markets were added to Nielsen’s measurement of consumer confidence in the first quarter of 2014. A mobile survey methodology was deployed to gauge sentiment in these countries, which differs from the online methodology used to report consumer confidence and spending intentions for the other 60 countries outlined in this report. As such, these markets are not included in the global or Middle East/Africa averages.

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