Brexit deal in December uplifts Irish consumer sentiment

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DUBLIN- Irish consumer sentiment boosted in December and recorded its two consecutive monthly gains in four years as ‘no-deal’ Brexit concerns diminished, according to survey released on Friday.

Ireland still tops the board as the fastest growing economy within years of Brexit talks, but consumer sentiments dwindled when Britain, the country’s neighbor country, planned to leave the union without any withdrawal deal.

The KBC Bank consumer sentiment index increased up to 81.4 last December, from its previous record of 77.1 in November and its lowest point of 69.5 within seven years last October.

Upsurge in consumer sentiment was brought by largest back-to-back gains since January 2015. However, sentiment index failed to surpass the highest record of 17-year-high of 110.4 in 2018.

According to Austin Hughes of KBC Ireland, consumers thought that Brexit risks were minimized rather than being completely removed as the increase in sentiments showed a “small but potentially significant change in the mood of Irish consumers”.

“The outperformance of UK and Irish consumer confidence measures in late 2019 suggests a key local concern has eased, at least for now,” he said.

“The question is whether that relief will prove sufficient to spark a material step-up in spending on either side of the Irish Sea in early 2020,” Hughes added.

On Monday, a Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) poll of Ireland services firms advanced for two consecutive months, its most rapid pace since middle of 2019.

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