CANBERRA, AAP – Australians were generally upbeat with the festive season on the horizon, apart from those in NSW where the mood has been soured by a rise in COVID-19 cases at the weekend.
The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer sentiment index – a pointer to future household spending – rose 0.5 per cent in the past week.
However, this disguised a 5.5 per cent drop in NSW, which ANZ senior economist Adelaide Timbrell attributed to a rise in COVID-19 cases on Saturday when the survey was being conducted.
But concerns over the inflation outlook eased slightly.
“The drop in inflation expectations to 4.7 per cent was consistent with a 4.5 per cent decrease in national petrol prices over the past two weeks,” she said.
Inflation expectations were 4.9 per cent last week and close to a recent seven-year high of five per cent, fuelled by the recent rise in petrol prices to record highs.
While pump prices have started to ease, global oil prices are on the rise again as concerns over the potential impact of Omicron recede.
Global oil prices saw their biggest lift since late August last week, according to Commonwealth Securities.
Still, while Australia’s annual rate of inflation is relatively high at three per cent, it is nowhere near the rate in the US, which jumped to 6.8 per cent in the year to November, the fastest pace since 1982.
However, a separate survey by peak accounting body CPA Australia found growing inflation concerns among its members.
It found 36 per cent are worried about the inflation outlook compared with just 19 per cent when last surveyed in October.
Similarly, worries over skills shortages doubled from 15 to 30 per cent over the same October to December period.
“Our members are sensing some brittleness to the recovery,” CPA Australia general manager external affairs Jane Rennie said.
“Workforce shortages, increasing costs, supply difficulties and uncertainty about how governments may manage future COVID-19 outbreaks have accountants feeling apprehensive.”
Concerns about lockdowns being re-imposed increased to 49 per cent from 39 per cent previously.
“The emergence of Omicron shortly before the survey opened seems to have reignited fears of lockdowns,” Dr Rennie said.
“Even though states and territories have released re-opening roadmaps, accountants clearly aren’t convinced we’ve seen the end of lockdowns.”
National Australia Bank will release its monthly business survey for November later on Tuesday, while the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Westpac manufacturing survey for the December quarter is also due.