Mainland China consumers more upbeat than regional peers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 January, 2016, 6:18pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 January, 2016, 6:18pm

Mainland consumers, bolstered by improving sentiment in the equity and real estate markets, are more optimistic than their peers in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, according to a new survey.

Confidence among mainland consumers rose to 101.6 in the fourth quarter, returning to an optimistic level from 97.2 in the third quarter, according to a joint inter-university study tracking mood in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

The result marked a return above the 100 level separating optimism from pessimism.

The consumer confidence index readings in the other three areas all revealed pessimism.

Taiwan’s consumer confidence index, at 83.8, was the second-highest among the four areas, followed by Hong Kong which scored 83, while Macau consumers were the least upbeat with an index reading of 82.6.

Ren Tao, a researcher with the Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, said sentiment in the mainland was boosted by the autumn rebound in the stock market and improved confidence in the housing market, while consumers also felt optimistic about the economy and employment prospects.

A sub-index measuring confidence in the stock market rose to 91.7 in the fourth quarter, up 20.5 points from the third quarter. A subindex tracking mood in towards the property outlook printed at 91.7 in the fourth quarter, a rise of 8.8 point from the third quarter.

However, the latest readings did not reflect the impact upon sentiment from the volatile initial week of trading in mainland share markets.

“It’s hard to forecast the impact on consumer confidence in this quarter, but previous data showed that stock market fluctuation would weaken consumer’s confidence,” he said.

In Hong Kong, consumer confidence towards the property sector also recovered to 58.2 in the fourth quarter, up nearly 10 points from 48.3 in the third quarter.

Improvement in sentiment was traced to view that falling Hong Kong home prices had improved affordability. said Liu Fangtao, a researcher from the department of management science at the City University of Hong Kong.

“Although the property prices have seen a continuous drop according to the leading index compiled by (real estate agency) Centaline, the transaction volume may increase following the price drop owing to improved people’s purchasing power,” Liu said.

Sentiment may continue to improve this quarter amid expectations for a further 10 per cent drop in home prices in the coming months, Liu said.

Confidence towards the stock market continued to ebb lower, easing to 76.8 the fourth quarter from 78.2 in the third quarter.

The quarterly study was conducted by the mainland’s Central University of Finance and Economics, Taipei Medical University and the Macau University of Science and Technology.