After a decline in all sub-indexes in the spring survey, there was a mixed picture in the autumn survey. The profit outlook improved from 49.6 to 53.7, while the sales outlook fell from 55.0 to 53.7. Compared with the spring survey, there is cautious optimism on order intake as fewer companies expect sales to decrease. Still, less than 50 percent of the surveyed companies reported growth in order intake. There are also indications that companies are becoming more cautious about investments, and the mood appears to be shifting to a “wait and see” approach.
Although the overall index improved, the trend is still consistent with what was seen in the spring survey and sentiment remains subdued given that a fair amount of uncertainty remains.
“However, with the zero-Covid strategy having recently been scrapped and the Chinese government having adopted a clear pro-growth attitude for 2023, we have already observed a shift in sentiment among foreign companies in China,” said Juliette Xue Lascoux, General Manager of SEB Shanghai. “What’s more, many major cities in China have already gone through the first infection waves that were expected to come after the zero-Covid strategy was abandoned. That means Covid-related disruptions are likely to decrease and that optimism is likely to continue to increase.”
Supply-chain disruptions was the main concern among the survey respondents in the spring, with some 70 percent citing that as the main concern then. While it remains a major concern, the share of respondents citing that as their biggest concern in the autumn has dropped to 24 percent. The survey also shows that concerns about data protection and cyber security are increasing as new regulation is underway, with concerns about regulatory inspection jumping from 5 percent in the spring to 32 percent in the autumn.