The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) Trade Conditions Survey.
Trade Conditions Continue Improving.
Trade conditions improved further in March 2012 after a recovery into positive territory in February 2012. The non-seasonally adjusted TAI (Trade Activity Index) increased by 3 points from 57 in February to 60 in March 2012. The seasonally adjusted TAI also gained 3 points to 59. A year ago the TAI dipped to 54 in March 2011 from 56 in February 2011. The TAI was higher in the 1st quarter of 2012 at an average of 55 compared to 53 in the 1st quarter of 2011.
Sales and new orders remained strong at 66 and 63 respectively. The sales volume index was 5 points up on February while new orders improved by 3 points. The inventories index declined slightly to 59 following increases in both January and February 2012. Supplier deliveries remained strong but decreased slightly to 56.
The index for current sales prices remained unchanged at 64 in March, but the input price index increased to 72 from 69. The latest levels acknowledge rising price pressures and the latest fuel price increase, the introduction of new toll fees and tariff increases for municipal utilities services, will have a further negative effect on input prices with downstream consequences for inflation. The price rises will have a real impact on the spending power of already hard hit consumers and businesses.
Trade expectations kept to the high levels recorded in February 2012 as the TEI (Trade Expectations Index) remained at 67. In the 1st quarter of 2012 the TEI averaged 65 against the 64 of the 1st quarter of 2011. The prospects of interest rates remaining unchanged in 2012 are a contributing factor to higher trade expectations.
The six month outlook for key components of trade contracted marginally in March 2012 and although sales and input price expectations remained high, it was somewhat lower at 69 and 76 compared to 71 and 77 respectively in February 2012.
The employment conditions in the trade environment improved during March 2012 as the index moved into positive territory from 47 to 53. Expectations on employment conditions remained positive at 54 – down slightly from 55.
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Richard Downing Economist for SACCI Cell: 082 822 5566
Neren Rau SACCI CEO Phone: 011 – 446 3800