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Consumer confidence returns … but not if you’ve got a mortgage

The nation’s consumers have reported a slight improvement in confidence, getting over the hit delivered by the toppling of Malcolm Turnbull as PM.

The closely watched Westpac-Melbourne Institute measure of consumer sentiment lifted by one per cent this month after falling more than 5 per cent through August and September.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said the change was partly due to confidence returning in areas such as WA on the back of a “dramatic” turnaround in the State’s jobs market.

Despite the improvement, confidence is still well short of where it stood earlier in the year and a long way off its most recent highs recorded just ahead of the 2014 Budget.

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Mr Evans said while optimists out-numbered pessimists there were still ongoing issues for some groups.

“Concerns around interest rates and house prices are still apparent. The sub-group detail showed sentiment amongst households with a mortgage continued to weaken in October, dipping a further 0.8 per cent to be down 6.4 per cent over the last two months,” he said.

Mr Evens said the negative fallout from the move from Mr Turnbull to Scott Morrison had started to reverse.

He said confidence among coalition voters had recovered two-thirds of the drop recorded in September.

But there is continuing issues around the housing market with a sharp fall in expectations about home prices.

The index dropped by 7.4 per cent to reach its lowest level since the survey question was asked in May 2009.

“The State detail showed a particularly sharp 20.3 per cent drop in Victoria, suggesting the price correction in Melbourne, which has been slower to come through than in Sydney, is starting to bite,” he said.

“House price expectations are now particularly weak in NSW and Victoria although in both cases the state indexes are still above the prints seen in WA when the Perth market was moving into its prolonged price correction in 2015-16,” he said.

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