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Irish consumer confidence ticks up after four months of falls

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FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease in Dublin

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish consumer sentiment improved slightly in June after a rare four months of declines, a survey showed on Thursday, but the authors said it was unclear if the increase was likely to be sustained.

The KBC Bank Ireland consumer sentiment index climbed to 57.7 in June from 55.5 in May. The June figure matched the level registered in April but remained far short of the 2022 high of 81.9 hit in January and the series average of 86.4.

"At current levels, sentiment is awful rather than apocalyptic, suggesting the Irish consumer is down but not entirely out," KBC Ireland chief economist Austin Hughes said.

The index had fallen each month between February and May as concerns around the cost of living continued to build and worries about a global recession intensified.

Hughes said it was not yet clear what had triggered the improvement as there had been no clear easing in the forces that had darkened the mood of Irish consumers.

It is possible consumers feel they are braced for the difficulties that lie ahead, or are reacting to signs that supportive government measures are planned, he said.

On the other hand, it could be a "largely technical and possibly short-lived improvement".

The survey found that 59% of people were reducing non-essential purchases, while 37% were cutting back on essentials. Just 5% of consumers said they did not need to make adjustments.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries, editing by Ed Osmond)

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