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Canada Nanos Consumer Confidence Index Rises to 1-Year High

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March 15 (Bloomberg) -- Canadian consumer confidence rose to its highest in a year, according to a Nanos Research poll, amid signs the outlook for the country’s economy is improving.

The Nanos Economic Mood Index for March rose to 107.8 from 104.6 in February, which was the lowest since 2009, according to a report provided by Nik Nanos, president of the Ottawa-based polling company, on improving personal finances and expectations for growth and housing prices.

The outlook for Canada’s economy has improved in recent weeks as U.S. economic indicators have exceeded forecasts and European policy makers made progress in preventing that region’s credit crisis from spreading. The Bank of Canada said March 8 that uncertainty in the global economic outlook had decreased in recent weeks, and the outlook for the Canadian economy has “marginally improved.” Still, weak employment growth is hampering confidence in Canada.

“The fact that many still consider themselves worse off than a year ago suggests more of a hopeful limbo than recovery,” Nanos said in an interview. “Canadians still display cautious optimism regarding the economy.”

The balance of opinion on whether the economy will be stronger or weaker in the next six months was negative 5.3 in March compared with negative 8.4 in February, the Nanos poll found, the third-straight improvement.

Expectations Index

The Expectations Index, based on questions related to perceptions of the economy and housing values, rose to 122.2 from 116.7. The Nanos Pocketbook Index, based on questions related to personal finances and job security, rose to 96 from 94.6 in February. The Economic Mood index is a composite of the Pocketbook and Expectations indexes.

The “net perception” of Canadians about whether local real estate prices will rise in the next six months rose to 34.5 from 27.1. Net perception is calculated by subtracting the percentage of those who say real estate values will fall from the percentage of those who say they will rise.

The perception of job security fell to 43.9 from 45.5, the report said, while the measure for personal finances over the past year increased to negative 10.4 from negative 15.5 in February.

The Nanos poll of 1,004 Canadians was taken between March 9 and March 12.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Quinn in Ottawa at gquinn1@bloomberg.net; Theophilos Argitis in Ottawa at targitis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net; David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net.