However, sentiment levels of NSW consumers trailed the national average, where interest rates and petrol prices remain the top two anxiety drivers, the survey found. Sixty-two per cent of NSW respondents believed the Australian economy will show strength in 2007, although the premier state was less confident than its counterparts. Queensland was the most confident state, with 76.6% of respondents indicating their belief in a growing economy. Notwithstanding three interest rate rises in the year to date, Australian consumers have not significantly altered their perspective on personal finances for the coming 12 months, said Warren O'Rourke, Mortgage Choice national manager, corporate affairs. "Overall, there has been no significant swing in Australians' perception of their financial future. Sentiment dropped only slightly and interest rates and petrol prices remain the top two concerns for the state. Consumers continue to have a positive outlook on property and their finances," he said. Besides interest rates and petrol prices, which were the top two things making consumers nervous, householders were concerned with job security and falls in housing prices. A significant proportion of households remain tightly geared, with 19.2% of NSW respondents reporting that they would have difficulties should further interest rate rises occur. Nationally, 16.5% of respondents reported this concern. In contrast, nearly a third (32.2%) of respondents said they could withstand an entire percentage point increase in rates. Meanwhile, 20.9% of respondents nationally said that they would manage a 0.25% increase, 18.8% said they could afford a 0.5% increase while 8.8% could afford a 0.75% increase.

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