Canadians worry more about money than jobs-survey

* RBC Consumer Outlook Index dips to 108 in March from 109

* Canadians anxious about personal finances

* Overall view of economy positive, but cautious

TORONTO, April 1 (BestGrowthStock) – Canadians became more anxious
about their personal finances in March — enough to lose sleep
over the issue — but felt a little more confident about jobs,
a consumer confidence survey found on Thursday.

The RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index dipped to 108
points in March from 109 in February, signaling that overall
sentiment has barely budged.

The index has been edging up and down since its launch in
December, reflecting opinions that the country’s economic
recovery will be a bumpy one.

“There are risks to the outlook that Canadians are still a
bit worried about,” said Craig Wright, chief economist at Royal
Bank of Canada. He cited weakness in the U.S. economy, the
impact of a stronger Canadian dollar, and concerns about global
exit strategies from extraordinary stimulus measures used to
combat the credit crunch.

Sentiment on the overall economy remained in positive
territory, with 54 percent of respondents describing it as good
and 46 percent describing it as bad.

However a higher number of respondents expect the economy
to worsen over the next 12 months: 20 percent in the latest
survey compared with 13 percent in February.

Canadians were slightly less fretful about the job outlook,
with 22 percent saying a member of their household is worried
about being laid off, down from 25 percent the month before.

On overall personal finances, 33 percent think their
situation will improve in the next three months, up from 30
percent in February.

But the survey also found 65 percent are losing sleep over
finances.

It found 27 percent of respondents are concerned about
paying off debts, followed by 18 percent who are worried about
having enough for retirement, while 16 percent fret about
having no emergency fund.

The survey also revealed that 34 percent were not confident
about any aspect of their financial situation.

More than two-thirds of Canadians, or 69 percent, expect
interest rates will rise in the next six months, up from 65
percent in February and roughly in line with market
expectations.

The Bank of Canada has pledged to keep interest rates at
record lows until the end of the second quarter, assuming
inflation remains tame.

Recently, there has been talk that interest rates could be
lifted sooner because of a string of very firm economic
numbers, though yields on overnight index swaps suggest the
market sees the tightening cycle starting on July 20.
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“Bay Street is interpreting the data and upwardly revising
their growth forecasts, and Main Street is telling us to be a
bit more cautious,” said Wright.

The RBC index is based on an online survey of 1,020
Canadians, ages 18 and over. It was conducted by Ipsos Reid
between March 9 and 15, 2010.

Investing Research

(Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson)

Canadians worry more about money than jobs-survey