Confidence hits the highest level seen in seven years

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CONSUMER confidence surged in January to its highest level since 2007 after falling for three months, a survey showed yesterday.

GfK’s UK Consumer Confidence Index rose in January to -7 from December’s -13, its best reading since September 2007, around the start of the financial crisis.

Britain’s economy enjoyed a strong finish to 2013, growing 0.7 per cent from October through December, rounding off its best year of growth for six years.

The recovery has been largely driven by housing and the consumer sector, and yesterday’s survey suggested that has further to run.

GfK said its index has risen by 20 points in the last nine months – only the third time in a 40-year series that there has been such a sharp shift.

“All this is good news for the government as the election starts to get within sight,” said Nick Moon, managing director of social research at GfK, referring to next year’s general elec- tion.

GfK’s survey showed increases across all of its measures of confidence, including a strong rise in consumer expectations for the economic situation over the next 12 months.

Although housing and consumers have driven Britain’s economic recovery so far, the Bank of England has warned that exports and business investment will need to strengthen in 2014 for growth to last.

The UK unemployment rate fell to 7.1 per cent in the three months to November.

Some investors are betting that interest rates, which are currently 0.5 per cent, will rise sooner than previously expect- ed.