Irish consumer sentiment hit its highest level in nearly seven years in February as the economy and confidence continue to pick up steam after leaving the EU/IMF bailout on December 15. <p>

Ireland has made a storming return to bond markets after becoming the first Eurozone country to complete a bailout and its economy is expected to grow by about 2.0% or more in real terms in 2014, helping bring down one of Europe’s highest debt loads. <p>

The KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index rose to 85.5 in February from 84.6 in January, its third monthly gain in a row to reach its highest level since May 2007, the year before a property bubble burst and a deep economic crisis took hold. <p>

The sub-index for current economic conditions jumped to a seven-year high of 100.2, from 97.6 in January. But its counterpart measuring consumer expectations of their future financial situation and employment was slightly lower, at 75.6 from 75.8 in January, reflecting an economy still to recover fully and another austerity Budget due later this year.<p>
<b>Overall, improving consumer sentiment can only be good knews for the Irish economy, leading to increased personal spending on goods and services.
<p><h5>Alan McQuaid</h5>


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