British consumer confidence edged up this month to its highest level since June last year as households grew less pessimistic about their financial prospects for the coming year, although consumer morale was still extremely low.
Polling company GfK NOP's monthly consumer confidence index rose to -28 in September from -29 in August, in line with market expectations.
Most economists expect Britain's economy to inch out of recession in the three months to September, as the one-off effect of an extra public holiday in June drops out of quarterly data and lower inflation boosts consumers' spending power.
Second-quarter figures released on Thursday showed that despite a 0.4 percent fall in economic output over the period, households' real disposable income rose at the fastest pace since the second quarter of 2009.
Official data published last week showed a 0.6 percent rise in retail sales volumes over the three months to August, but GfK NOP said it would take more than one month's data to be sure of a lasting upturn in morale.
"We will have to wait for next month's figures to see if there has been a real change in public mood and people are beginning to feel more secure economically just in time for Christmas, or whether this is just an end-of-summer blip," said Nick Moon, managing director of GfK NOP Social Research.
The GfK index is currently being dragged down by its backward-looking components, with households' assessment of their own finances and the general economy over the past 12 months much weaker than their expectations for the future.
The survey of 2,004 people was conducted between August 31 and September 9, and was carried out for the European Commission.
(Reporting by David Milliken)