Canberra, April 11 (IANS) Australia’s consumer sentiment has seen an increase of 9.4 per cent, jumping from 78.4 in March to 85.8 in April, according to a new report released on Tuesday.

“This strong recovery in the Index can be largely attributed to the decision by the Board of the Reserve Bank to break the sequence of 10 consecutive meetings when the cash rate was increased by deciding to pause at the April meeting,” said Bill Evens, chief economist at the Westpac Group which issued the report.

The survey was conducted between April 3-6, which covered the board meeting of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) on April 4.

After delivering 10 straight hikes since May last year, the central bank left the cash rate target unchanged at 3.60 per cent.

The report by Westpac pointed out that confidence is now at its highest level since June last year, although 10.4 per cent below April last year, the month before the RBA began lifting the case rate.

Confidence amongst mortgage borrowers rose sharply by 12.2 per cent, but it was 14.5 per cent below its level before the tightening cycle began.

Sub indexes released “some very strong messages” as well.

Sentiment towards “Family Finances over the Next 12 Months” surged by 12.0 per cent, while confidence about “Economic Outlook over the Next 12 Months” was up 16.5 per cent.

But the report also noted that respondents remain cautious, as 34.11 per cent expect rates to jump by more than 1 per cent over the year.

“Despite this lift in April, we still characterise Consumer Sentiment as weak and consistent with Westpac’s view that consumer spending through 2023 and at least the first half of 2024 will be lacklustre,” said Evens.