LONDON (AP) -- British consumers were slightly more hopeful about the state of the economy later this year, but the vast majority remain deeply gloomy, the Nationwide Building Society said Wednesday.
The mortgage lender said 19 percent of respondents in February's survey believed economic conditions would be better in six months, up from 17 percent in January -- while 43 percent expected the situation to be worse, down from 53 percent in January.
However, 86 percent believed the current situation was bad, up from 84 percent in January.
Some 41 percent thought it was a bad time to buy a house, down from a peak of 68 percent in August and the first time the figure had been less than 50 percent in a year. Sixteen percent said it was a bad time to make major household purchases, down from the recent peak of 27 percent in October.
"Spending confidence continues to be resilient, which could reflect the effect of sharp falls in interest rates on consumers' disposable incomes, but is also likely to reflect significant discounts available," said Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide's chief economist.
The survey was based on responses from 1,000 people between Jan. 17 and Feb. 15, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.