After improving from -10 in the fourth quarter of last year to -5 in the first quarter of this year, the FNB/BER consumer confidence index fell back to -9 in the second quarter. A reading of -9 indicates that consumer confidence remained relatively low given that it has averaged +4 since 1994. However, it remained above the most recent low of -15 registered in the second quarter of 2015. Nevertheless, the latest data mark the longest streak during which consumer confidence has been at or below zero since the survey started in 1982 — 12 consecutive quarters. In the first quarter, consumers expected the economy to perform better in 12 months' time. This was, in part, supported by the actual improvement in agriculture production in the summer rainfall areas, a moderation in inflation and tentative signs of an economic upturn taking hold in advanced economies. However, consumers reversed their view on the prospects for the economy in the second quarter. The "economic outlook" subindex f...

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