The Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment rose by 4.2% in February to 101.3 from 97.3 in January, the bank reported. Bill Evans, Chief Economist at Westpac "The Index has now recovered all the ground it lost in January when it fell by 3.5%. The Index has now returned to a level (above 100) where optimists outnumber pessimists. This is good news in that there have only been five months over the last two years when we have had optimists in the ascendency." "Last month we interpreted the 3.5% fall in the Index as being mainly due to respondents’ concerns with the sharp falls in share markets and the oil price from the beginning of the year. Between the beginning of the year and the final day of the January survey Australia’s share price Index fell by around 8% and the oil price was down by 20%." "Over the four weeks to the end of this February survey there has been little net movement in either share markets or the oil price although we have continued to see significant volatility. Respondents were clearly relieved that markets did not follow on from the steep declines we saw in early January." For more information, read our latest forex news.