Confidence in local economy improves significantly: survey

Taipei--Confidence in Taiwan's local economy improved significantly as a series of data pointed to a recovery, according to a survey conducted by Cathay Financial Holding Co. (???).

Cathay Financial, one of the largest financial holding firms in Taiwan, said that with the composite monitoring indicator, released by the National Development Council, flashing the seventh consecutive"green light"in January, representing a stable pace of growth, people appeared more upbeat about the local economy.

In addition, a move by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) in February to upgrade Taiwan's 2017 economic growth to 1.92 percent, from 1.87 percent, gave an additional boost to sentiment toward the economy, Cathay Financial said.

Citing the survey conducted earlier this month, the financial firm said that 25.5 percent of the respondents believed the local economy will fare better over the next six months, while 37.7 percent of them agreed that the economic fundamentals will get worse.

The results translate into a March optimism index toward the economy over the next six months of minus 12.2, up from minus 20.7 recorded in February, Cathay Financial said.

Meanwhile, the economic optimism index for the current situation in the January survey also rose to minus 13.3 in March from February's minus 22.5, which represents further evidence of improved sentiment, Cathay Financial added.

According to the survey, 46.9 percent of the respondents believed that Taiwan's economic growth for 2017 will top a 1.5 percent increase seen a year earlier, and 5.1 percent of them said that the economy will likely grow 2 percent or even higher this year.

Cathay Financial, which has raised its forecast of Taiwan's 2017 economic growth to 2.1 percent from 1.5 percent, said that the survey showed people in Taiwan were generally cautiously optimistic toward the pace of the economic recovery.

In the survey, the optimism index toward the local equity market over the next six months also rose to minus 12.1 in March from minus 18.4 seen in February after the local bourse posted significant gains in recent sessions, pushing up the weighted index on the main board closer to the 10,000 point mark.

In addition, Cathay Financial said, the index toward the appetite for investors to take risks in the stock market grew to minus 7.1 in March from February's minus 8.9 on the back of the gains posted by the weighted index.

The survey, conducted March 1-7, collected 17,320 valid questionnaires online from clients of Cathay Life Insurance (????) and Cathay United Bank (????), which are 100 percent owned by Cathay Financial.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel