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Consumer sentiment reaches 17 year high

Consumer sentiment rose to a 17 year high in January, as people start to feel the benefits of the economic recovery.

The latest KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI consumer sentiment index found that the sentiment increased to 110.4 in January, from 103.2 in December.

This is the highest level of confidence seen from consumers since February 2001.

The index highlighted an easing of the strain on household finances as a factor behind the improved confidence.

In addition, the index found that concerns over Brexit were reducing.

However, the sentiment index tends to record improvements at the start of the year, with January having accounted for the largest monthly gains in four of the past six years.

Earlier this year the Central Bank said that the pace of the economic recovery in Ireland had “exceeded expectations” as it predicted an extra 89,000 people will be in work by the end of next year.

This would bring the total number with a job to around 2.3 million – well ahead of the previous peak of 2.24 million seen in 2007 at the end of the Celtic Tiger years.

Economic growth is being supported by strong and broad-based growth in employment, the Central Bank argued. This in turn is boosting incomes and encouraging people to get out and spend.

Meanwhile, the number of people taking out a mortgage is back to levels last seen at the peak of the property boom.

Some 35,000 people drew down a home loan last year, with half of these first-time buyers.

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