New Zealand consumer confidence remained retreated in the first quarter, as concerns rose over the strength of the economy and inflation pressures.
The household index advanced to 102.4 in the first quarter from 101.3 in December, Westpac Banking Corp. and McDermott Miller Ltd. said. As the Confidence stayed the lowest since the last year, immediately after an earthquake devastated the South Island city of Christchurch.
Little confidence suggests weak consumer spending growth in early 2012, Westpac said. That adds to the case for Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard keeping interest rates unchanged at its record low, after he indicated on March 8 that the official cash rate could stay at a record-low 2.5 percent for another round and may be until the end of this year.