[QUOTE=]Irish consumer sentiment hit an all-time low in April as concerns over mounting job losses, dimmer prospects for the economy and rising living costs took their toll.
The IIB Bank/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index, published on Tuesday, fell to 56.0 in April from 63.3 in March and was at its lowest level since the index began 12 years ago. The previous record low was in July 2003 when it hit 60.9.
The reading contrasts with 83.0 posted in April 2007.
"A sharp increase in job loss fears, together with enveloping gloom about Irish economic prospects and surging food and energy costs, meant it was almost inevitable that consumer sentiment would hit a record low in April," said Austin Hughes, Chief Economist at IIB Bank.
Signs Ireland's once booming property market was slowing emerged months before the global credit crisis erupted, with the first monthly fall in Irish house prices in over five years reported a year ago.
Hughes said sentiment had been particularly hit by data showing Ireland's tally of unemployment benefit claimants jumped to its highest level since 1999 in March.[/QUOTE]