SINGAPORE - Consumer confidence in several Asia Pacific countries has sunk to levels similar to those seen during a regional financial crisis 10 years ago, a MasterCard survey said Thursday.
The twice-yearly survey of 13 markets in the region found six are as pessimistic or even marginally more so than they were during the 1997-98 financial crisis that struck the region.
MasterCard said those countries were South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
The MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence, derived from a survey, measures consumer confidence on a scale from zero to 100, with 100 being most optimistic.
It said Japan and Indonesia were above levels of 10 years ago but had low sentiments towards the next six months. Indonesia was at 36.7 on the scale and Japan at 29.90.
Overall, the region's consumers are only slightly optimistic about the coming six months, with a measure of 56.0 on the index. That compares with 69.3 during the last survey.
"The decline in optimism can be attributed to the continuing global credit crunch and associated volatility in financial markets, rising inflation, mounting food and fuel prices, and slower economic growth in many of the markets surveyed," MasterCard said.
With an index score of 87.3, Singapore proved the most optimistic, followed by Vietnam, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Taiwan, it said.
Thailand's score of 23.7 left its consumers the most pessimistic.
The Index measures consumers' outlook toward employment, the economy, regular income, stock market and quality of life.