20pc invest in stock market, poll reveals

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 November, 1997, 12:00am

A fifth of all adults have invested in the stock market, the latest South China Morning Post quarterly confidence survey reveals.

The figure may give some explanation of the public's mood following the stock market turmoil, although the poll reveals confidence in the economy was slipping in the weeks before the slump.

In the second survey since the handover, based on interviews recorded in the week of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's first Policy Address last month, views on the economy were markedly more pessimistic than in early July.

The public's attitude to the future of the Special Administrative Region was slightly more positive after remaining steady throughout the change of sovereignty. However, the political mood may also have changed since the crash.

While higher-paid groups are clearly the top share-owners, the low-paid are bigger players than people at the bottom end of the sandwich-class.

Twelve per cent of people with incomes below $13,000 a month had invested in the stock market, compared with only eight per cent of those earning between $13,000 and $20,000.

A particularly sharp drop in the Major Purchase Intention index, from July's seven-year high of 102 to a more modest 85, reflected a generally gloomier view of the economy and personal financial circumstances among the survey's 1,085 respondents.

However, the poll, carried out for the Post and Ming Pao by AC Nielsen.SRH, suggested economic confidence levels were returning towards their pre-handover range.

Twenty-four per cent described the present economic situation as good, compared with 29 per cent in July and 19 per cent in April.

The result represents the first decline since the bottom of the economic cycle in January 1996.

There was a significant drop in expectations for the economic outlook over the next 12 months. Only 26 per cent expected an improvement, compared with 30 per cent in July and 27 per cent in April.

People were also gloomier about their own financial situations over the coming year, with a similar four-point decline in positive replies.

The Economic Confidence Index stood at 94, down four points from July's post-Tiananmen high and just ahead of the 93 in April.

The Political Confidence Index stood at 96, not significantly different from previous surveys this year.