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China consumer sentiment climbs to six-month high in October, survey shows

Customers look at mobile handsets as an advertisement featuring a photo of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.. founder Sam Walton hangs on a wall in a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. owned and operated Sam's Club store during its opening day in Tianjin, China, on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016.
Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Consumer sentiment in China edged up to a six-month high in October as consumers' willingness to spend climbed, a private survey showed Wednesday.

The Westpac MNI China Consumer Sentiment Indicator rose to 117.1 in October from 115.2 in September, Westpac said in a statement.

The gains were led by hefty increases in the "Durable Buying Conditions" and "Current Household Finances" components, which offset small declines in "Expected Household Finances", "Business Conditions in One Year" and "Business Conditions in Five Years" sub-sets.

"Chinese consumer confidence is again showing promising signs of a sustained lift with the more positive picture on family finances and durables spend a welcome development particularly from the point of view of prospects for an associated lift in demand," said Matthew Hassan, senior economist at Westpac.

"That said, the lackluster picture on business conditions is clearly still a headwind feeding into consumer concerns about job security and a 'risk averse' attitude to spending and saving decisions," he said.

Have markets been ignoring the yuan to their detriment?

The Westpac MNI Indicator is based on responses from a minimum of 1,000 individuals aged between 18 and 64 across 30 cities in China.

The latest readings followed official data last week that showed China's economy grew by 6.7 percent on-year in the the third quarter, largely in line with estimates. China's economy appears to be regaining its poise after a torrid summer last year, although concerns persist over the frothiness in the property market as well as the accumulation of debt.

Authorities have looked to cool down runaway property prices in large cities and this was reflected in a weakening of attitudes towards real estate.

Despite the somewhat buoyant tone in consumer sentiment, the outlook for personal finances over the coming year was less impressive, likely reflecting uncertainties over the business environment and weakness in the yuan, Westpac said.

"Even with the latest gain it still looks like a sustained turnaround in business conditions will be required to drive a stronger and broader upturn for consumers," Hassan said.

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