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UK consumer confidence inches up to four-month high in September

UK consumer confidence inches up to four-month high in September
September 29, 2017

LONDON (Reuters) - Confidence among British consumers unexpectedly edged up to a four-month high in September, although they became gloomier about the state of their finances, a monthly GfK survey showed.

Market research firm GfK’s monthly consumer sentiment index edged up to -9 in September from -10, against predictions for a fall to -11 in a Reuters poll of economists.

The figures may hearten Bank of England officials who have signalled that an interest rate hike is nearing, so long as Britain’s economy continues to grow and price pressures keep rising.

Economic growth figures due at 0830 GMT will offer more detail on how Britain’s economy capped off the first half of 2017.

GfK said consumer morale rose for the second month in a row, although still remained below levels seen before Prime Minister Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority in an election in June.

Other indicators of the health of Britain’s consumer economy have picked up, such as gauges of retail sales.

“Consumers are still spending out there, and have repeatedly defied predictions of a downturn since last year’s Brexit vote,” GfK’s Head of Market Dynamics Joe Staton said.

The value of sterling plunged after the UK’s decision to leave the European Union last year, pushing up inflation. Weak has further dented household budgets.

“It’s live now, pay later,” Staton said. “But how long can it last?”

Separately, Lloyds Bank said its gauge of business confidence rose by 6 points to 23 percent, with economic optimism indicators also on the up.

Though edging up over the last month, economic optimism among companies is still at the second lowest level this year, Lloyds said.