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Canadian consumer confidence tumbles in October

Staff Writer |
Consumer confidence in October had its largest decline since the price of oil first dipped below US$30 a barrel in January of this year.

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The Conference Board of Canada's Index of Consumer Confidence fell 6.3 points in October to 96.7.

Confidence fell in most regions of the country, but Alberta's index was hit especially hard and now sits just a few points above its all time low.

For the country as a whole, the level of the Consumer Confidence Index remains well above the 80 reading during the last economic downturn, implying that Canadians are generally cautious rather than fearful.

Responses on whether now was a good time to make a major purchase was the main driver of the decline in the index. Canadians in every region of the country were more pessimistic about buying a big-ticket item, such as a home or a car.

In addition, relative to September, more survey respondents indicated that their household finances were worse than they were six months ago. Expectations about future finances also waned.

Regionally, Alberta's index plummeted 15.4 points in October to 38.5, wiping out most of the gains it had made since hitting an all-time low in February.

The decline was heavily influenced by developments in the province's largest city.

The unemployment rate in Calgary has skyrocketed over the last two months to reach 9.5 per cent, a full percentage point above the provincial average and the highest rate of all 33 major metropolitan areas in the country.

Consumer confidence in the Saskatchewan-Manitoba region also took a beating, falling 9.8 points to 74.1 in October. British Columbia's index decreased significantly as well, falling 8.7 points.

Consumer confidence also fell sharply in Quebec. It remained flat in Ontario. Only the Atlantic provinces saw an increase in their index this month.

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