Will Asian optimism lead the world out of recession?

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Consumers around the world are feeling more positive about the future, according to data released January 6 by Nielsen.

There has been a marked increase in confidence in Asia particularly, where residents are beginning to spend on out-of-home entertainment, holidays and new clothes again following the recession. Eight of the top ten most confident markets were in Asia, with Indonesia ranked first place and India second. Overall, all of the five regions surveyed posted a rise in confidence between Q2 and Q4 2009, although significant concerns about the state of the economy remain in the US and parts of Europe.

Chinese consumers topped the global ranking in terms of discretionary spending, with 57 percent beginning to invest in stocks or funds and 44 percent in technology products.Fifty-three percent were purchasing new clothes again whilst half were spending on holidays. This makes Chinese, and Singaporeans, the most likely to spend on holidays in the first half of 2010.

"Spending on holidays and vacations in Hong Kong and Singapore rose almost 10 percent between June and December last year," said Nielsen's James Russo. "Asian consumers cut their travel and holiday budget quite drastically during the downturn, so this year they're planning on taking that delayed, well-earned vacation."

Nearly one in two of all global consumers surveyed said that their personal financial outlook was excellent or good, with Indonesians the most optimistic. Respondents in India and Brazil were the second and third most confident about personal finance respectively, whilst Brazilian consumers were most likely to go on a spending spree in 2010. Thirty-nine percent of Canadians also said that now is a good time to spend.

Nielsen polled 17,500 consumers in Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North America during December to compile the survey.

The World's Most Confident Countries
Data from Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index

1. Indonesia
2. India
3. Brazil
4. Australia
5. Philippines
6. China
7. Hong Kong
8. Singapore
9. New Zealand
10. Canada