WRAPUP 1-Canada consumers get the blues, accountants brighten

* Survey shows consumer gloom on financial prospects

* No great expectations for employment either

* Survey of accountants rosier on economy

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, April 27 (BestGrowthStock) – Consumer confidence fell in
April in Canada, but the nation’s accountants displayed
optimism about the economy in the first quarter that approaches
levels not seen since 2007, surveys on Tuesday showed.

The Conference Board of Canada said its consumer confidence
index was down a sharp 7.8 points to 84.8 this month.

“This last month was a surprise to see it come down,” said
Pedro Antunes, director of national and provincial forecasts at
the Conference Board. “We think it may have something to do
with the fact that there’s a lot of news about interest rates
and lending rates coming up.”

Antunes said the market consensus that interest rates will
rise this year has also spurred concern about a correction in
Canada’s booming housing market. Changes in mortgage rules and
revised sales-tax regimes in Ontario and British Columbia have
added to the concern about falling demand. [ID:nN18184642]
[ID:nN15137487]

“Households are very heavily invested in their homes and if
they feel there may be some correction to housing prices that
may have played a role in the numbers,” he said.

The quarterly Business Monitor survey done in March by the
Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and Royal Bank of
Canada, however, did not reflect the concern. The survey seeks
the opinions of executive chartered accountants who have
first-hand knowledge of the financial performance of Canadian
companies.

Sixty-one percent of executive chartered accountants
surveyed said they were optimistic about the economy over the
next 12 months, up from the 48 percent who expressed optimism
in the final quarter of 2009. The figure was in stark contrast
to the 4 percent who were optimistic in the first quarter of
2009.

“The latest findings clearly underscore a growing comfort
with the Canadian economy,” Kevin Dancey, president and chief
executive of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.

CONSUMERS SEE GLOOM

In the consumer survey, respondents were particularly
negative about their financial prospects.

Those who said their financial situation had improved over
the past six months rose just 1 percentage point to 15.6
percent, while those who said they are worse off financially
than they were six months earlier rose 4.7 points to 24.2
percent.

The number of respondents who said their financial
situation will worsen over the next six months rose 6.5 points
to 18.9 percent. Negative sentiment about future finances has
been trending higher for the past six months, the Conference
Board said.

Sentiment on expectations about employment dipped in April.
Respondents were asked if they felt there would be more jobs in
their communities six months from now, and 26.7 percent replied
that they did — a 3.1 percentage point decrease.

The share of respondents who said they feel there will be
fewer jobs in six months rose 1.2 points to 17.2 percent, the
survey said. The Conference Board noted, however, that the
broader trend on employment had been positive over the past 12
months.

Western provinces experienced declines in confidence
readings, as did Quebec, the survey showed. Ontario and
Atlantic Canada, however, “managed to escape the gloom,” the
board said.

The index of consumer confidence had risen modestly in
March. [ID:nN24146249] The latest survey was based on more than
2,000 telephone interviews conducted between April 8 and 19.

Stock Market Report
(Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway)

WRAPUP 1-Canada consumers get the blues, accountants brighten