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South African consumer confidences dips into negative territory

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A customer shops at a Shoprite store in Johannesburg, in a file photo. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko play A customer shops at a Shoprite store in Johannesburg, in a file photo. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's consumer confidence fell back into negative territory in the first quarter of 2015, weighed down mainly by chronic power shortages that have blighted the economic outlook, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The index fell to -4 points in Q1 2015 after being flat in the fourth quarter of last year, as confidence levels among high and middle income households dropped, compilers First National Bank (FNB) and the Bureau for Economic Research said.

"With the escalation of load shedding, consumers have understandably become more negative about South Africa's economic prospects," said Sizwe Nxedlana, chief economist at FNB.

Power utility Eskom has frequently imposed rolling blackouts, locally known as "load shedding", in order to prevent its creaking grid from collapsing.

Nxedlana added that recent tax increases and a weaker rand currency also weighed on consumer confidence in Africa's most advanced economy.

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