05/25/2012 10:39 EDT | Updated 07/31/2012 06:38 EDT

Canadian Consumer Confidence Sees Big Surge In May


OTTAWA -- Consumer confidence is surging across the country, according to the latest survey by the Conference Board of Canada.

The Ottawa-based think-tank said Friday that its May consumer confidence index shot up 5.8 points to 80.8, completely reversing a relatively poor performance in April.

Better yet, its says sentiment improved in virtually all regions of the country, although the gain was statistically insignificant in British Columbia.

Despite the better numbers in May, however, the index remains below where it was a year ago, it said.

The Conference Board survey was the second in as many days to show a brightening of the mood among Canadian consumers.

On Thursday, international business consultancy TNS said its overall consumer confidence index jumped more than three points to 98.8 in May from 95.4 in April after a fairly lacklustre performance in the first four months of the year.

Meanwhile, for a second month in a row, the Conference Board survey showed Quebec's regional index registering the strongest performance, following up last month's 2.4-point gain with a 7.3-point increase in May. Its current level of 75.3 is the highest for the province in a year.

Despite a gain of 7.2 points this month to 69.7, Ontario's index is still the lowest in the country, while the index in Atlantic Canada rose 5.4 points to 74.6.

The survey showed consumer confidence was the highest in the Prairies where the index stood at 109.1, up 3.8 points month over month.

Confidence was little changed in British Columbia this month, up just one point at 89.4.

This survey involved some 2,000 telephone interviews conducted between May 3 and May 14, with a claimed margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

Respondents were asked for responses to four questions, including their views about their households' current and expected financial positions and the short-term employment outlook. They were also asked to assess whether now is a good or a bad time to make a major purchase such as a house, a car, or other big-ticket item.

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