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MasterCard says Asia Pacific region remains optimistic

Singapore among the highest (86.6) to reflect consumer confidence in MasterCard Worldwide Index.

Consumers across the Asia/Pacific region are approaching the next six months with a steady sense of optimism, according to the latest MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence survey, released Tuesday. Eight of the fourteen markets polled reflected positive consumer sentiment looking ahead, with the Asia/Pacific region witnessing an overall increase in its consumer confidence index score from six months ago (69.1 vs 66.3 six months ago), according to a Mastercard report.

Now in its 18th year, the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence is the region's most comprehensive and longest running consumer confidence survey. Released twice a year, the Index is based on a survey which measures consumer confidence on prevailing expectations in the market for the next six months based on five economic indicators: Economy, Employment, Stock Market, Regular Income and Quality of Life. The Index score is calculated with zero as the most pessimistic, 100 as most optimistic and 50 as neutral.

The latest survey was conducted from 15 March to 12 April 2010 and involved 10,503 consumers from 24 markets. Data collection was via internet surveys, personal, telephone and Computer Aided Telephone interviews, with the questionnaire translated to the local language wherever appropriate and necessary. The Index and its accompanying reports do not represent MasterCard financial performance.

Vietnam (93.7), Singapore (86.6) and China (83.0) continued to reflect higher consumer confidence compared to other markets in the region. Malaysia (71.7 vs 63.5), the Philippines (84.6 vs 69.9), Singapore (84.3 vs 67.5) and Taiwan (64.3 vs 47.2) showed increased confidence in their Regular Income outlook as compared to six months ago.

Across the region, the trend of respondents below the age of 30 being more optimistic than their older counterparts has continued, with the index scores of the former group averaging 73.0 points, as compared to 67.4 points for those over the age of 30. This was significant in New Zealand (77.2 for those below 30 vs 61.8 for those above 30), Hong Kong (83.3 vs 74.4), Singapore (92.0 vs 84.0) and the Philippines (64.4 vs 56.7). Respondents above the age of 30 in Korea, however, reflected higher optimism levels than their younger counterparts (56.0 for those above 30 vs 47.7 for those below 30).

Japan's levels of pessimism decreased, as index scores increased from 24.4 six months ago to 27.8 for the six months ahead, with confidence in the stock market improving from an index score of 36.6 to 44.1. Optimism levels in the Philippines (59.3 vs 49.7 six months ago) rebounded significantly, pulled upwards by a positive outlook towards Regular Income (84.6 vs 69.9), the Economy (58.0 vs 46.4) and Employment (53.7 vs 43.4) for the six month period ahead. China, however, witnessed a slight decline (2.3) in index score from six months ago, with a drop in optimism in the stock market (67.9 for the six months ahead vs 74.2 six months ago).

Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor, Asia/Pacific, MasterCard Worldwide said, "The Asia/Pacific region rebounded in economic growth as early as the second half of last year, and regional recovery has continued to gain traction this year. While consumers in this region were amongst the first to cut back drastically on discretionary spending 18 months ago, they now seem confident and ready to significantly increase their discretionary expenditures and reduce their precautionary savings. This stability of consumer confidence and rising consumption in Asia/Pacific therefore bodes well for stronger business investment through the rest of the year, thereby contributing to the momentum of recovery."

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