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The BankservAfrica economic transaction index (BETI) recovered slightly on an annual basis in August‚ increasing by 2.8% year on year compared with a 2% year-on-year rise in July.

BankservAfrica said on Wednesday that the index‚ considered the earliest and broadest business cycle indicator of the total South African economy‚ confirmed reduced growth forecasts made by the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank.

Mike Schussler‚ chief economist at‚ attributed the improvement in August mainly to base effects.

“We should remember‚ however‚ that August 2011 saw massive strikes in the motor and steel industry‚ often lasting for weeks. This could account for the year-on-year growth‚” he said.

“So whilst the year-on-year growth looks more positive‚ it in fact has more to do with low economic levels in the middle of 2011.”

Schussler said the BETI was slowing down in a wider pattern than it did a year ago‚ reflecting a decline on both a quarterly and monthly basis.

“Although the economy is not anywhere near a recession‚ it is struggling to obtain growth much above population growth‚” he said.

Most institutions were now forecasting 2012 growth for SA at between 2.5% and 2.6% from earlier forecasts of around 3%.

Brad Gills‚ CEO for the payment system operator business at BankservAfrica‚ said the August BETI confirmed that even when compared with the much lower growth of the same period last year‚ the economy was struggling.

He said ATM figures‚ gleaned from 32‚000 ATMs in the country‚ revealed July year-on-year growth of only 3.82%‚ well below inflation. - I-Net Bridge