Confidence Surveys at Odds over Way Midland Consumers Look at Future; ECONOMICS

Article excerpt

Two consumer confidence reports have clashed over what the economic direction is for the West Midlands.

The Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets Consumer Barometer, which surveys more than 2,000 people across 11 regions of the UK, found the balance of consumers in the West Midlands who expected higher interest rates in 12 months time rose by 15 per cent to +76 per cent in April - the highest level it has been for seven months and the second highest since the survey began in November 2004.

The expectation mirrored the national average balance of +76 per cent which itself had risen by seven per cent.

Perhaps as a result of this, confidence around personal job security across the West Midlands fell by nine per cent, from +four per cent in March to - five per cent in April. By comparison the national average balance improved by seven per cent from - six per cent to +one per cent. Trevor Williams, chief economist at Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets, said: "May's interest rate hike to 5.5 per cent came as little surprise to consumers but the current market perception suggests rates could get to six per cent by the end of the year. …