The World: Sydney - Consumer confidence plummets to 15-year low

Consumer confidence in Australia has dropped to its lowest level for 15 years, according to new figures from the leading research company Roy Morgan.

The fall is blamed on the rising number of Australians - 27 per cent - who believe they and their families will be financially worse off this time next year.

Deteriorating confidence comes amid soaring petrol prices and the highest interest rates for almost 12 years.

The gloomy mood has also spread to New Zealand, where consumer confidence has hit a record low. Almost half of New Zealanders claim they are financially worse off than a year ago.