Consumer sentiment up in Feb
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Consumer sentiment surged ahead in early 2013, accompanied by rallies on local share markets and an improved outlook of family finances.
The Westpac/Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index rose by 7.7 per cent to 108.3 in February, following a modest rise of 0.6 per cent in January.
A reading above 100 indicates that positive sentiment outweighed negative sentiment among respondents.
Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said a rally on local sharemarkets and better economic news from overseas may have helped boost sentiment.
"Sentiment may have been buoyed by a strong start to the year for financial markets," he said.
"News from offshore has also been broadly supportive."
But, Mr Evans said, the index still remained below the high levels seen between 2008 and 2009, when the index was consistently around the 120 level.
Mr Evans said the sub-index tracking views on family finances compared to a year ago rose 7.3 per cent in February, to a still relatively-weak index level of 83.5.
Meanwhile, the sub-index tracking views on families finances over the next 12 months rose 1.4 per cent to 105.0.