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China's consumer confidence up in first quarter

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BEIJING, April 21 (Xinhua) -- China's consumer confidence index rose in the first three months of 2011 after two consecutive quarterly declines last year, an agency affiliated with China's statistics bureau said Thursday.

The index stood at 108 for the first quarter, up eight points from the previous quarter, according to a report released by the China Economic Monitoring and Analysis Center (EMAC) of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Consumer confidence was boosted by stable and fast economic growth in the first quarter, said Pan Jiancheng, deputy head of the EMAC.

Consumers were optimistic about employment and income increases, the report said.

Seventy-three percent of consumers in the first quarter believed employment would be "good" or "very good" in the coming year, up six percentage points from the previous quarter.

Seventy-one percent of consumers in the first quarter expected individual incomes would be "good" or "very good" in the coming year, up nine percentage points from last quarter, the report said.

Rural consumers in the first quarter were more optimistic than urban consumers in their expectations for employment and individual incomes, the report said.

Consumers were more willing to spend as the government's efforts to cool down prices began to take effect.

In the first quarter, 38 percent of consumers believed it was a good time for them to buy things they needed, up eight percentage points from the previous quarter, the report said. However, their willingness to spend was still at a relatively low level.

Seventy-three percent of consumers surveyed during the first quarter believed that home prices would rise in the coming year, up six percentage points from the previous quarter.

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