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Taiwan's consumer confidence hits new high

Taiwan's consumer confidence hits new high

Taipei, July 28 (CNA) Taiwan's consumer confidence in July hit a fresh high on the back of improving economic fundamentals at home, according to the results of a survey released Monday by National Central University. The July consumer confidence index (CCI) stood at 88.17 points, up 0.59 from June. It was the second consecutive month in which the local CCI reached a record high, according to the survey conducted by the university's Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development. D.R. Wu, director of the research center, said that as several research institutions raised their forecasts of Taiwan's gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2014, local consumer confidence has been reinforced and sentiment toward the local job market has also improved. Among the major upbeat economic think tanks, Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top research institution, raised its forecast July 10 for the country's economic growth for 2014 to 3.31 percent from an earlier estimate of 2.89 percent. In May, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics upgraded its own forecast for Taiwan's GDP growth this year to 2.98 percent from 2.82 percent. The government agency is scheduled to update its forecast in mid-August. Wu said that among the six sub-indexes in the July CCI, confidence in the local economy over the next six months scored the highest gains, up 3.45 points from June to 85.25. Hu Sheng-cheng, a professor at the university, cited the survey as saying that those in the younger generation were more upbeat than their older counterparts, adding that people with high school education appeared more optimistic about economic globalization than people with college degrees or higher. In addition, the sub-index for confidence over the local job market rose 0.4 points from June to 112 in July, also hitting a record high, according to the survey. San Gee, a professor of the university's Graduate Institute of Industrial Economics, said he expects Taiwan's jobless rate for 2014 to reach around 3.9 percent at a time when the local economy is on the road to recovery, adding that Taiwan's GDP could rise more than 3 percent this year. In the first six months of this year, Taiwan's jobless rate was 3.97 percent, down 0.17 percentage points from a year earlier, and 4.03 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. In 2013, the country's unemployment rate averaged 4.18 percent. Meanwhile, the sub-index for the timing to buy durable goods for July rose 0.7 points from a month earlier to 109.3, and the survey showed that it could be good timing to buy homes in the second half of this year. The survey said the sub-index for confidence in family finances rose 0.45 points to 79.95 in June, while the sub-indexes for confidence in the local bourse and local consumer prices over the next six months fell 1.3 points and 0.2 points, respectively from a month earlier to 95.9 and 46.6 in July. (By Yang Shu-min and Frances Huang)