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Mastercard said Malaysia recorded ‘significant improvement’ in consumer confidence, gaining 11.1 points to move into a neutral mood at 42.3 points for the first half of this year. ― Reuters picMastercard said Malaysia recorded ‘significant improvement’ in consumer confidence, gaining 11.1 points to move into a neutral mood at 42.3 points for the first half of this year. ― Reuters picKUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 — Consumers here are no longer pessimistic as the Asia Pacific region experienced an overall improvement in consumer confidence, a biannual survey by credit card firm Mastercard has revealed.

Mastercard said Malaysia recorded “significant improvement” in consumer confidence, gaining 11.1 points to move into a neutral mood at 42.3 points for the first half of this year and compared to the pessimism six months ago.

Neighbouring Singapore, which like Malaysia was the only ones out of 18 markets surveyed to register a significant jump, gained 15.4 points to move from pessimistic territory to neutral territory at 45.4 points for the first half of this year.

“Both markets saw more than 15 point improvements in the Stock Market component,” Mastercard said when commenting on its latest Mastercard Index of Consumer Confidence (MICC) results released August 16.

Mastercard noted that the region's overall consumer confidence remains optimistic, with an improved 66.9 points for the first half of this year compared to 62.7 points in the second half of last year.

“The 4.2 point increase in confidence was driven mainly by a bullish outlook on the Stock Market (+7.3) and Employment (+5.1). Consumer sentiment remains stable in 11 out of the 18 Asia Pacific markets (within +/- 5 points from the last survey),” it said.

Of the 18 markets, the countries where consumers were most optimistic are Cambodia (93.1), Vietnam (90.8), Bangladesh (89.4), the Philippines (88.8) and China (88.2).

Although not among the survey's top five countries for consumer confidence, South Korea recorded the largest jump with an “extreme improvement” by moving up 46.7 points from neutral territory to very optimistic territory at 78 points ― its highest since 1995.

The other markets that were surveyed are Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.

The survey was conducted between April and June this year where 9,153 individuals aged 18 to 64 from the 18 countries were asked to rate their six-month outlook on the five economic factors of economy, employment prospects, regular income prospects, stock market and quality of life.

Their ratings from 0 for most pessimistic to 100 for most optimistic and between 40 and 60 as neutral for these five questions were then averaged out for the MICC.

The MICC which started in the first half of 1993 has been running for over 20 years.

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