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Canadian consumer confidence rises from year-earlier levels

Shoppers carry their purchases through Toronto's Eaton Centre in this file photo.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A new survey says Canadian consumer confidence at the beginning of 2014 was higher than it was one year ago but slightly lower than at the end of 2013.

The Harris/Decima-Investors Group's overall consumer confidence index for the first quarter of 2014 stood at 81.2.

That's up from 77.6 in the first quarter of 2013 but down from 84.4 in the fourth quarter of 2013, which marked a three-year high for the index.

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The index tracks responses to consumer attitudes about what lies ahead for the economy and their own financial situation.

The latest survey found fewer optimistic responses than in the fourth-quarter and more negative responses.

The index is based on responses from 2,080 people collected between Feb. 20 and March 3.

Fewer than one in five of those responding to the latest survey, 18 per cent, said they were better off financially compared to a year ago – down from 21 per cent in the fourth quarter.

There were also 22 per cent who said they were worse off financially now than a year ago, compared with 18 per cent in the previous survey.

For the long term, the latest survey found 48 per cent were optimistic about where the economy will be in five years – compared with 38 per cent who were pessimistic.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, this split was 50 per cent expecting better times, versus 35 per cent believing there would be unemployment and recession.

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In the near term future, roughly one in four respondents said they expect to be better off financially a year from now, compared with 14 per cent who felt they will be worse off.

In the fourth-quarter, the split was 28 per cent optimistic and 10 per cent pessimistic.

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