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Index shows consumer confidence recovering

CHINESE consumers are recovering confidence, China UnionPay Co said today, citing an index based on bank card transactions.

The index, the Bank Card Consumer Confidence Index, tracks bank card transactions in nine major Chinese cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

The index, set up in the first quarter of 2008, shows signs of recovery in the first quarter of this year, the country's sole inter bank card transaction handler said today.

The index rose to 86.95 in the first quarter of this year, up from the fourth quarter's 86.88 and the year on year figure of 83.62.

The quarterly index showed a fluctuation last year -- it rose to 86.59 in the second quarter but tumbled to 85.31 in the third quarter of 2008 and then inched up in the last quarter.

"The rising index in the first quarter showed that Chinese consumers' are fundamentally confident and are optimistic, indicating a big potential for domestic consumption," said Xu Luode, UnionPay's president.

Xu expects the index to keep rising this quarter.

Shanghai-based UnionPay tracks all yuan-backed bank card transactions in China.
Chinese banks issued 1.8 billion bank cards by the end of December, a 20 percent increase on the previous year.

Credit card use is growing rapidly in China but debit cards still dominate China's bank card market. Banks had issued 1.66 billion debit cards by December 31, up 18 percent.

China is the only major economy that has fended off a recession during the financial crisis.


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