HONG KONG - (NewMediaWire) - July 3, 2023 -  (ACN Newswire- Standard Chartered and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) today released the Standard Chartered GBA Business Confidence Index (GBAI) for the second quarter of this year. The current performance of "business confidence" eased to the 50 neutral mark while the expectations index remained in the expansionary territory (58.7), the second-highest reading in two years. The headline expectations index for credit also remained expansionary at 51.6, reflecting sanguine underlying growth expectations among companies in the region. Both expectations and credit indices point to further recovery in the third quarter.

Resilient investment appetite

The softer Q2 GBAI readings were expected considering the strong first-quarter GBAI performance brought by Mainland China's swift post-COVID sentiment rebound. The performance of underlying sub-indices was more diverse this quarter after a more uniform increase in Q1. Fixed Asset Investment had the highest score of 52.9 among components, suggesting that respondents remained optimistic towards the longer-term GBA business outlook, by acknowledging the need to invest in capacity expansion in anticipation of further demand normalisation.

Industry sub-indices vary

The current performance index for Professional Services rose 4.0 points to an industry-best 56.1. The sector's expectations index also outperformed by being the lone print above 60 (61.9). The current performance and expectations index of Financial Services and Innovation and Technology saw the largest quarter-to-quarter drops among sectors. Financial respondents' sentiment was driven by margin pressures and credit worries amid an easing recovery momentum while the tech sector continues to face many headwinds, led by the ongoing global semiconductor downcycle.

China on modest recovery path

"The dip in the index in Q2 reflects the normalisation of base effects, softening of nationwide macro data quarter-to-date, and the novelty of reopening was bound to wear off. However, the index did not fall back into contractionary territory, suggesting only a softening of the recovery momentum. Given that GBA is a microcosm of Mainland China's diverse economic drivers making it a bellwether for overall growth, we see the mainland managing to stay on a modest recovery path," said Mr Kelvin Lau, Senior Economist, Greater China, Standard Chartered.

More diverse performance among GBA cities

There was a more diverse city performance among the current performance sub-indices. Most notably, Shenzhen (from 51.5 to 51.9) and Dongguan (from 53.5 to 56.4) showed their second consecutive improvement while other city sub-indices fell. Shenzhen weathered weaker responses from its tech respondents by posting the highest manufacturing and trading score among all city sub-indices. Guangzhou and Hong Kong, the other two GBA core cities, outperformed Shenzhen across the other four industry sub-indices.

Sustained recovery momentum in the coming quarters

Ms Irina Fan, Director of Research at the HKTDC, said: "We continue to take comfort from the fact that all city expectations indices stood comfortably in the 50+ expansionary territory, consistent with our view of a sustained recovery momentum in the coming quarters. That includes Hong Kong, which, despite returning to the lowest score of the pack, still managed to record a solid 54.7 expectations print (led by retail and professional services), making it two straight quarters of expansion."

Overseas global supply chain migration yet to happen

Although there has been a lot of discussion about global supply chain shifts in the market, 91% of survey respondents said they have not moved any capacity overseas, and 87% reported no plans to do so for now. The survey found the biggest hurdles and concerns for relocating production capacity overseas are "cost of production higher than expected" topped the list at 34.6%, followed by "poor labour quality and productivity" at 29.9%, and "lack of good suppliers / proximity to suppliers" at 22.8%.

Related materials
- Standard Chartered GBA Business Confidence Index Report: https://www.sc.com/hk/gba/gba-index-report/
- HKTDC Research: https://research.hktdc.com/en/article/MTQxNzI2NzQ2MA

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The history of Standard Chartered in Hong Kong dates back to 1859. It is currently one of the Hong Kong SAR's three note-issuing banks. Standard Chartered incorporated its Hong Kong business on 1 July 2004, and now operates as a licensed bank in Hong Kong under the name of Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Chartered PLC.

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The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is a statutory body established in 1966 to promote, assist and develop Hong Kong's trade. With 50 offices globally, including 13 in Mainland China, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a two-way global investment and business hub. The HKTDC organises international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to create business opportunities for companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in the mainland and international markets. The HKTDC also provides up-to-date market insights and product information via trade publications, research reports and digital news channels. For more information, please visit: www.hktdc.com/aboutus. Follow us on Twitter @hktdc and LinkedIn

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