There was a marginal decline in consumer sentiment in April, indicating that the mood of Irish consumers has altered very little of late.

The KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index edged down to 58.9 last month from its March reading of 60.

According to the report's author, consumers remain fairly cautious about the outlook for the economy as a whole and nervous about their own financial situation.

"The details of the April survey suggest consumers became a little more concerned about Irish economic prospects and less inclined to make major purchases," Austin Hughes, KBC chief economist says.

The slightly weaker Irish sentiment reading in April was broadly consistent with the modest decline reported in the comparable indicator for the US.

In contrast, Euro area consumer confidence improved marginally in April.

"Results varied considerably across the countries that make up the single currency area. Consumers were a little more positive in 'core' countries such as Germany, France and Belgium and also a little less worried in Spain and Portugal," Mr Hughes explained.

Unsurprisingly, sentiment among Cypriot consumers weakened sharply in the month.

Further weakening in outlook on household finances

After a significant decline in March, consumers' views as to how their household finances might develop in the year ahead weakened marginally further in April.

"In spite of an easing in inflation to an annual rate of just 0.5% in March, consumers' views on the next 12 months seem to have been more heavily influenced by concerns about the impact the new property tax and further budgetary tax and Public Spending measures may have on household incomes," Austin Hughes concludes.

"Unlike most other areas of the survey, this element has shown a clearly weakening trend through the past six or seven months. In the main, this seems to reflect the heightened impact of further budgetary adjustments on already strained household finances."