TAIPEI (CNA) — Consumer confidence in Taiwan continued to weaken in December as faith in Taiwan’s stock market was hurt by volatility in international markets during the month, according to National Central University (NCU).

With the sub-index gauging sentiment in the local stock market falling to an almost two-year low, Taiwan’s consumer confidence index (CCI) for December fell 0.39 points from a month earlier to 79.74, the lowest level since July 2017 when it was 78.19, NCU said.

The CCI gauges how confident consumers are in the direction of six factors — employment, family finances, consumer prices, the local economic climate, the stock market and the likelihood of purchasing durable goods — in the coming six months.

Of the six factors, the sub-index on the stock market suffered the steepest decline, a 3.10-point fall from a month earlier, to hit 74.50, its lowest level since January 2017 when the sub-index dipped to 66.50, NCU said.

NCU said choppy international stock markets further eroded confidence in the local market in December after the weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (Taiex) remained below the 10,000-point mark.

The Taiex ended below 10,000 points on Oct. 11 for the first time since May 2017 on a selloff triggered by concerns over trade tensions between the United States and China and successive interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Since then, the Taiex has closed below 10,000 points in every trading session except for those on Oct. 12, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4.

On Dec. 28, the Taiex closed down 0.89 percent, at the day’s high of 9,727.41. For the entire 2018, the index ended down 915.45 points, or about 8.6 percent.

The sub-index for confidence in consumer prices also moved lower by 0.10 from a month earlier to 45.40 in December, NCU said.

The sub-indexes for the other four factors — family finances, the local economic climate, the likelihood of purchasing durable goods, and employment — all rose, by 0.30, 0.30, 0.15 and 0.10, respectively, to 86.65, 82.25, 89.70 and 99.95 in December.

But because a sub-index score of 0 to 100 indicates pessimism, and a score of between 100 and 200 indicates optimism, survey respondents were actually downbeat about the prospects for all six factors over the next six months, according to NCU.

The survey on which the index is based, conducted from Dec. 19 to 23, collected 2,682 valid questionnaires from local consumers aged 20 and over. It had a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.0 percentage points.

By Pan Tzu-yu and Frances Huang