CAPE TOWN – In December 2018 the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) Business Confidence Index (BCI) measured 95.2 and declined by 0.9 index point from 96.1 in November 2018. The BCI was also 1.2 index point down on December 2017.
Keeping in mind that the confidence index averaged 138 in 2006, 100 in 2015 and down to 94.4 in 2017, the 2018 BCI average of 95.5 could continue the slow turnaround.
Business confidence and thus the BCI remained on a moderate level throughout 2018 after the initial positive moves in early 2018. In comparing December 2018 to December 2017, the task of restoring the business and investor climate remains a major challenge.
Although seven of the thirteen sub-indices of the Sacci BCI were worse off than a year ago, the general assessment is that the present-day administration acknowledges the huge challenges ahead and the role a sound economy could play in addressing it.
Four of the seven real-activity sub-indices and three of the six financial sub-indices had negative month-on-month impacts on the BCI in December 2018.
The main negative m/m effects on the BCI were caused by less merchandise export volumes, the decreased real value of building plans passed and fewer new vehicle sales. The most positive m/m contribution to the BCI in December largely came from increased merchandise import volumes.
The year-on-year dip in the BCI in December 2018 was mainly caused by declining share prices, reduced merchandise export volumes and the weaker rand exchange rate. The December 2018 BCI level was impacted by improved merchandise import volumes, the lower real value of building plans passed, and lower cost of energy.
In the broader context, South Africa has dipped below many of the longer-term trends of economic activity and financial markets in 2018. Though exogenous factors such as the global economic performance were relatively positive for an open economy such as South Africa, the country lagged behind better-performing peer emerging markets.
It is important that the run-up to the upcoming general elections be conducted in a manner that obviates the sensitivity of investors and thus business confidence as a whole.
Content supplied by Sacci.
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