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News: WBC Australia consumer confidence eases in July-survey

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    SYDNEY, July 13 (Reuters) - A measure of Australian consumer sentiment eased in July as political uncertainty caused by a cliff hanger election at home and the Brexit vote clouded the near-term economic outlook.

    The Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank (WBC) survey of 1,200 people found consumer sentiment fell by 3 percent in July, from June when it dipped 1 percent.

    That still left the survey index 7.4 percent higher than July last year at 99.1, though optimists were slightly outnumbered pessimists.

    "With the major events of 'Brexit' and prolonged election uncertainty it is not surprising to see a fall in the Index," said Bill Evans, chief economist at Westpac. "In fact, given these developments, this fall appears to be surprisingly modest."

    It took more than a week of vote counting to determine that the conservative coalition led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had retained power and it is still not clear whether the government will be able to get much through Parliament's upper house.

    The survey showed expectations for the economic outlook over the next 12 months fell 6.1 percent, though the outlook for the next five years was essentially steady.

    The index of family finances compared to a year ago slipped 5.2 percent in the month, while the outlook for the 12 months ahead dipped 2.7 percent.

    The measure of whether this was a good time to buy major household items eased 1.5 percent.

    On housing, the 'time to buy a dwelling' index fell by 1.8 percent even as respondents saw prices rising ahead. The index of house price expectations lifted by 4.3 percent in July to its highest since August last year.

 
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