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MasterIndex Reveals: Kiwi Optimism Rules

MasterIndex Reveals: Kiwi Optimism Rules

Auckland, 31 January 2005 — New Zealanders are considerably more optimistic about the first six months of 2005 than they were for the second half of 2004, according to the latest MasterIndex™ of Consumer Confidence across Asia/Pacific.

The survey found that New Zealanders’ consumer confidence for the first half of the year has increased with a score of 68.6 compared to a period ago (56.6), with those surveyed particularly positive about regular income and employment.

The bi-yearly survey reveals that New Zealand’s optimism has increased in all five variables measured, with Regular Income at 92.4 (vs 82.5 a period ago), Employment at 77.8 (vs 59.4 a period ago), Quality of Life at 62.4 (vs 47.1 a period ago), Stockmarket Market sentiment at 57.7 (vs 46.6 a period ago) and the Economy at 52.6 (vs 47.2 a period ago). The current MasterIndex score (68.6) is much higher than the market historical average of 60.1.
Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic advisor, Asia/Pacific, MasterCard International said consumers in New Zealand have stayed optimistic throughout 2003 and 2004 in spite of the external shocks, with domestic concerns such as economic growth and interest rates exerting a greater impact on consumer confidence.

“Across Asia/Pacific, the 2003 – 2004 period has been perhaps the most turbulent since the 1997 financial crisis in the region. Consumer confidence in Asia/Pacific has shown great resilience in coping with the series of external shocks that buffeted both the global economy and Asia/Pacific during that time from SARS to the impact of the Iraq war and terrorist attacks.”

The recent tsunami tragedy has created yet more trial and tribulation across the region, but at the same time, it continues to showcase the region’s resilience. “As devastating as the tsunami was, there are already signs that resilience is once again at work in Asia/Pacific in rebuilding lives and businesses,” commented Dr. Hedrick-Wong.

“The people of Phuket, Thailand, for example, are keeping their businesses running. The Thai people’s generosity, the rapid deployment of facilities and resources in helping victims, and the outpouring of contributions have made powerful impressions upon foreign visitors. The region’s governments and private sectors, working with multilateral institutions, have come together to assist those affected in unprecedented fashion. The tsunami was a tragic disaster of massive proportion in the region, but consumer confidence in Asia/Pacific is unlikely to be affected by it over the longer term,” added Dr. Hedrick-Wong.

The latest MasterIndex survey was conducted from 20 October to 5 November 2004 and involved 5,517 consumers across 13 Asia/Pacific markets. Five variables are measured: employment, economy, regular income, stock market and quality of life. MasterIndex respondents are asked about their sentiment on these five variables for the six month ahead.

Of the 13 markets surveyed, nine had an optimistic MasterIndex score, compared to 11 in the preceding survey conducted at the first half of 2004. Indonesia, Vietnam and China topped the list of markets with a highly positive outlook; other optimistic markets include Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and Singapore.

Markets with a pessimistic outlook over the next six months include Korea, the Philippines and Japan. Consumer confidence in the Philippines has fallen back from a slightly optimistic level to a rather pessimistic position as compared to six months ago. Taiwan with its current MasterIndex of 48.2 is mildly pessimistic.

Individual country findings are available on request.

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NOTE TO EDITORS: This news release is distributed with an accompanying chart (see next page) that shows current MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence scores by market compared with several significant points in the history of the survey.
More information on MasterIndex can be found at the website www.mastercard-masterindex.com
About MasterIndex
MasterCard’s MasterIndex™ of Consumer Confidence survey has a 12-year track record of consumer confidence indices collected from more than 116,000 interviews, unequalled both in scope and history in Asia/Pacific.
The MasterIndex survey of Consumer Confidence is the most comprehensive and longest running of its kind in the region. MasterIndex has demonstrated its precision at several important junctures as a barometer of consumer sentiment. In June 1997, MasterIndex revealed a decline in consumer confidence – one month prior to the devaluation of the Thai baht that triggered the regional financial crisis. More recently in June 2003, MasterIndex for employment in Hong Kong dropped to a low of 20.0. This was subsequently reflected in Hong Kong’s unemployment rate, which peaked just before Sept 2003 at 8%.

The survey began in Quarter 2 of 1993 and has been conducted twice yearly since. Thirteen markets participate in the survey: Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Vietnam made its debut in the December 2003 report, replacing India, which is now covered by the SAMEA (South Asia/Middle East/Africa) MasterIndex survey. The last Asia/Pacific MasterIndex survey was conducted from October to November 2004 among a sample of approximately 400 (total sample of 5,517) across the middle and upper income groups in each market, except in China where approximately 600 respondents were surveyed.
The MasterIndex is calculated based upon percentage response figures, with zero as the most pessimistic, 100 as most optimistic and 50 as neutral. Five economic factors are measured: employment, the economy, regular income, stock market and quality of life. The responses are consumers' thoughts on the six months ahead (i.e. January to June 2005). Data collection was via personal and telephone interviews with the questionnaire translated to the local language wherever appropriate and necessary. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points at the 90% confidence level.

About MasterCard International

MasterCard International is a leading global payments solutions company that provides a broad variety of innovative services in support of our global members’ credit, deposit access, electronic cash, business-to-business and related payment programs. MasterCard International manages a family of well-known, widely accepted payment card brands including MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus and serves financial institutions, consumers and businesses in over 210 countries and territories. The MasterCard award-winning Priceless advertising campaign is now seen in 97 countries and in 47 languages, giving the MasterCard brand a truly global reach and scope. For more information go to www.mastercardinternational.com.


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The following Chart shows the performance of each market at different key intervals and important turning points in the history of the Region’s MasterIndex of Consumer Confidence.

The MasterIndex & The Region

Period Year Crisis HISTORICAL
Current Ago Ago Average AVERAGE
MARKETS 4Q 2004 2Q 2004 4Q 2003 4Q 97 - 4Q 98 MASTERINDEX
Australia 61.5 63.4 80.9 43.0 57.0

China 81.3 78.9 83.7 55.6 72.3

Hong Kong 79.2 71.2 81.1 16.9 47.9

Indonesia 94.7 67.3 49.0 27.2 67.5

Japan 37.7 47.6 31.8 5.4 23.8

Korea 29.6 40.7 43.6 26.1 54.3

Malaysia 78.0 84.0 93.5 40.9 75.9

New Zealand 68.6 56.5 73.7 38.5 60.1

Philippines 33.7 54.8 34.3 47.7 52.1

Singapore 58.7 71.9 65.3 34.4 64.5

Taiwan 48.2 58.6 65.7 45.1 50.7

Thailand 59.4 69.2 95.1 25.6 57.7

Vietnam 90.8 91.6 91.0 0.0 91.3
The Region 63.2 65.8 68.4 33.9* 59.6

Note: The Crisis period in the Chart above is based on the reflection of the MasterIndex™ of Consumer Confidence results, which may or may not coincide with actual chronology or the definitions of others.

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