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Australia consumer confidence hits 7-month low

Staff writer |
Consumer confidence in Australia hit its lowest level in seven months in April, reflecting growing concerns about a global slowdown and stoking expectations of a possible interest-rate cut.

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The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index fell 4% in April from March. The drop comes as Australian shares fell 3% over the month and focus on China's economic slowdown has intensified.

The survey showed pessimists outnumbering optimists, dashing hopes that confidence has found a solid footing and would prove resilient this year.

The drop in confidence came despite news of solid business confidence and conditions in March, something the Reserve Bank of Australia will also weigh ahead of its next policy meeting on May 3.

On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its global growth forecast for 2016 to 3.2%, down 0.2 percentage point from its projection in January.

The IMF also warned that a British exit from the European Union could wreak severe damage to the global economy, adding its voice to an intense debate ahead of the country's June referendum.

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