Business confidence improves in the third quarter

By on September 10, 2014
business_confidence

The RMB/BER Business Confidence Index (BCI) increased by five points to 46 in the third quarter. This is the first noticeable rise in over a year and it implies that just shy of five in every 10 respondents rated prevailing business conditions as satisfactory. The rise in the RMB/BER BCI mirrors an improvement in sentiment in all the sectors making up the headline index, except for the new vehicle trade. As for retailers, building contractors, and manufacturers, the business mood improved by 11, 8, and 3 points respectively. By contrast, sentiment among new vehicle dealers deteriorated by 15 points. After increasing from 39 to 49 in the second quarter, retailers’ confidence rose further to 60 index points. This is the first time in two and a half years that confidence is back in net positive terrain. The improvement in sentiment is notable as sales volumes did not increase across all categories — clothing and hardware rebounded strongly, while food and furniture sales volumes deteriorated. The confidence of wholesalers jumped from 44 to 59 index points. Unlike a diverse sales performance among retailers, wholesalers’ sales improved all‐round. Sales of non‐consumer goods (such as machinery, chemicals and building materials) benefitted greatly from the end of the strikes in mining and manufacturing, as well as from the return to higher activity levels in the residential building sector. Wholesalers of certain consumer goods also saw a notable improvement in business conditions. The confidence of building contractors increased from 45 to 53. This is the first time since the 2008 recession that this index is above the 50 neutral mark. Whereas residential building activity put in a strong performance in the third quarter, non‐residential activity stagnated. Manufacturing confidence increased marginally from 25 to 28 index points, as sales and production recovered only partially from the poor performance in the strike‐affected second quarter. While both export and domestic sales volumes improved, levels are still much lower than they were at the beginning of the year. Further declines in sales dampened new vehicle dealers’ business mood. At 28, confidence fell to the same low level as in the first quarter, rendering the second quarter’s jump to 43 a temporary blip. In contrast to new vehicles, the sales of used vehicles continued to march steadily upwards. Bottom line The third quarter increase in the RMB/BER BCI points to a further improvement in economic growth where the second half of the year should be better than the first. This is encouraging as only a short period ago some commentators were still worried about a possible recession. While the end of the labour unrest will in itself lead to

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a bounce‐back in economic activity, the survey results also show how various other developments should economic growth further.

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