Irish Consumer Confidence Increased to Seven-Month High in March

Irish consumer confidence rose in March to its highest level in seven months as the country’s new government enjoyed a “honeymoon” after taking power.

A household sentiment index climbed to 59.5, the highest since August, from 50.3 in February, the third-largest monthly gain in the 15-year history of the survey, KBC Ireland and the Economic & Social Research Institute in Dublin said today in an e-mailed statement. A gauge of consumer expectations also rose.

“The results could be interpreted as hinting at a measure of recession fatigue among weary Irish consumers,” said Austin Hughes, chief economist at KBC Ireland. They “may feel they have prepared themselves for a continuing storm to the best of their abilities.”

A “honeymoon period” for Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s new government, which took office on March 9, may have contributed to an improvement in sentiment, according to Hughes. Kenny replaced Brian Cowen as the country’s leader after the Fianna Fail-led administration oversaw a tripling of unemployment and an international bailout of Ireland.

A gauge measuring households’ expectations rose to 49.9 in March from 37.8 the previous month, today’s report showed. KBC’s gauge of how consumers view their current situation climbed to 73.8 from 68.9 the previous month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Finbarr Flynn in Dublin at fflynn3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.net

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