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Consumers in "cagey" mood as confidence holds steady

Consumers remained in a "cagey" mood about the state of their personal finances and the general economic picture in March, although they felt slightly more confident about making big purchases, according to new research.

The Consumer Confidence Index from GfK remained in negative territory this month at minus six points - unchanged from February.

Three of its five measures remained level, while two saw increases.

Confidence about people's personal finances over the last 12 months increased by one point to plus two, two points lower than this time last year.

The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months remained steady at three points, six points lower year-on-year.

The measure looking at the general economic situation in the last 12 months was unchanged at minus 21 - down 11 points on March 2016.

Expectations for the economy over the year ahead stayed at minus 20 points; eight points lower.

Nevertheless, the measure looking at confidence about making major purchases picked up one point to plus six. This was five points lower than March 2016.

Joe Staton, head of market dynamics at GfK, said: "Consumers remain cagey about the state of their personal finances and the general economic picture for the UK, especially as wage growth fails to keep pace with the rising costs of living.

"Since the Brexit referendum, household spending has been a big driver of growth, so any slump will dent future economic prospects.

"However, if we carry on shopping, as seen by the uptick in the Major Purchase Index, then forecasts for a post-Trigger/pre-Brexit slowdown could be proved wrong."

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