India remains home to the world's most optimistic consumers, as hopes of an economic revival under Prime Minister Modi's leadership continue to fuel positive sentiment in the country, according to a new survey.
"The urban Indian consumer started the year with positive sentiment in anticipation of improvement through reforms and stimulus announced by the new government," said Piyush Mathur, president, Nielsen India Region.
India scored 130 on Nielsen's first-quarter consumer confidence index published on Tuesday, rising one point from the previous quarter to levels not seen since 2011. Indian consumers have ranked as the most upbeat globally since the first quarter of 2014.
After India, consumers in Indonesia, the Philippines, United Arab Emirates and Thailand were the most bullish.
Global consumer confidence, by comparison, stood at 97, up one point from the previous quarter. Levels above and below 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.
The Nielsen consumer confidence index measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and immediate spending intentions, among more than 30,000 respondents within 60 countries.
"While confidence across global regions remained relatively stable in the first quarter, there is considerable variation across different markets," said Louise Keely, senior vice president at Nielsen and president of The Demand Institute.
Optimism is rising in major advanced economies such as Japan and Europe, but consumers in large emerging markets Brazil, Russia and China are turning more pessimistic, she noted.
Hope creeping back into Europe
While Europe remained the least optimistic region globally with an overall index of 77, there is evidence sentiment is improving, according to Nielsen.
Italy and Greece, two of the region's debt-ridden and recession-hit countries, both showed confidence increases of 12 points in the first quarter.
Italy's score of 57 was the highest for the country since 2011, and Greece posted a confidence reading of 65, its highest level since 2009.
"In Greece, a new government was elected in the general elections that took place in January, and as such, this kind of change usually boosts optimism and brings new hope for the future," said Vicky Grigoriadou, market leader, Nielsen Greece.
US holds steady
Consumer confidence in the world's largest economy ticked up one point to 107, helped by an improving job market and lower energy costs.
"In the U.S., optimism continued to move forward in the first quarter, likely influenced by the addition of nearly 600,000 new jobs and low gasoline prices, which put more money in consumers' wallets," said James Russo, senior vice president, Nielsen Global Consumer Insights.
However, confidence declined in neighboring Canada by six points to 96, the lowest since 2012.
Major EMs turn negative
Emerging markets such as Brazil and Russia saw large declines in confidence, to 88 and 72, respectively, from 95 and 79 in the previous quarter.
"In Brazil, the results reflect the uncertainty over the country's ability to increase growth rates in the short-term, return to more moderate inflation levels and avoid further unemployment increases," said Luis Arjona, country manager, Nielsen Brazil.
"Concerned with the overall economic environment, Brazilian consumers have become more conservative with their disposable income. They are increasing the share of grocery spend at discount stores and reducing spend on impulse categories," he added.