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Mumbai: Indian consumers are less pessimistic about the general economic outlook than they were in July, according to the latest survey by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

However, the pessimism around the pandemic continued to drag on sentiments as the consumer confidence index stood at 57.7 in September, though this was an improvement from the 48.6 clocked in July, showed the survey released on Friday.

The survey reflected less pessimism on the prevailing economic situation and employment scenario as well as household income and expenditure, RBI said.

The current situation index for September improved compared with the earlier survey rounds conducted since May 2020.

Consumer confidence for the one-year ahead period was also a little better than that of the July survey, with the future expectations index improving to 107 in September from 104 in July, aided by higher optimism on the general economic situation and employment scenario.

An index value below 100 represents pessimism, while one above 100 signals optimism.

The current perception for the economic situation, despite being in negative territory, showed improvement at -57.4 in September against -69.1 in July, while the perception for employment, too, showed improvement at -57.6 in September against -68.2 in July.

The perception for price levels and income also improved compared to the last round of the survey.

The price level perception was -90.6 in September against -91.9 in July, while that for income was -47.8 up from -59.1 in July.

The survey was conducted through physical interviews between 29 August and 7 September in 13 major cities, following the gradual easing of restrictions imposed in most states to contain the covid-19 pandemic, RBI said.

The survey obtained current perceptions and one-year ahead expectations on the general economic situation, employment scenario, overall price situation and income and spending from 5,237 households.

Households reported a rise in overall expenditure, largely because of higher expenditure on essential items, the central bank said.

The pessimism on current and future discretionary spending, however, declined in the latest round of survey.

RBI also released the results of the September 2021 round of the Inflation Expectations Survey of Households, conducted during the same period across 18 cities. The results are based on responses from 5,958 urban households.

“For the third consecutive survey round, households’ median inflation perception for the current period hovered around 10% with more than 60% of the respondents expecting general inflation to rise in the next quarter as well as over the next one year," it said.

The cost of services is expected to ease marginally over both the three-month and one-year horizons, it said.

Overall price and inflation expectations were generally more aligned to those for food products, non-food commodities, and cost of services vis-à-vis the price movements in household durables and housing.

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