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Malaysia's consumer sentiments index still positive [15-04-2011]  
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The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research consumer sentiments index (CSI) has recorded a reading of 108.2 points in the first quarter.

MIER executive director Dr Zakariah Abdul Rashid said although the index had slipped nine points from fourth quarter of 2010, it continued to remain in positive territory at above 100 points.

“While consumers are generally satisfied with the current economic performance, they are also beginning to take a more cautious and prudent stance,” he said at the MIER 16th corporate economic briefing yesterday.

The overall retail trade index (RTI) also shed 32.9 points quarter-on-quarter to settle at 99.1 points in the first quarter of this year.

“On annual basis, the RTI lost 7.8 points from a year ago. Although the fall is seasonal, as the first quarter is traditionally a quieter period, it could be attributed partly to uncertainties in the local and global economies,”he said.

However, he said the fact that the index fell marginally below the 100-point threshold suggested that the sector was experiencing only a slight contraction.

As for the MIER residential property index, Zakariah said the overall sentiment continued to be positive, with a 4.9-point gain from the previous quarter to reach 130 points.

“Leading the uptrend in optimism is expected production, followed by expected sales and capital investments,” he said.

On MIER's business conditions index which tracked domestic manufacturing activities, Zakariah said it recovered quarter-on-quarter to settle higher at 113.3 points in the first quarter of 2011.

“In the previous quarter, it had lost 5.4 points to settle a hair's breadth below the 100-point threshold.

“After three consecutive quarterly declines, the last one superficially broke the 100-point threshold on the back of stronger sales, new export orders, expected export sales and expected production,” he said.

Zakariah said a reading of above 100 points indicated that the manufacturing sector was on an expansionary mode.

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