The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) commented on Wednesday that trade conditions, which have remained tight since April, continued its static performance in August.
Sacci economist Richard Downing said that, while the seasonally adjusted trade activity index (TAI) recovered to 50 points from 45 in July, it remained below the levels reached earlier this year.
The non-seasonally adjusted TAI reached 49, up from the 45 recorded in July.
New sales and new orders both fell to 49 in August, after reaching 64 and 58 respectively, in May, while the inventories index rose from 45 in July, to 48 in August. Supplier deliveries jumped from 42 to 50.
Sales prices rose one point to 58 during the month under review, while input prices fell one point to 65.
Uncertainty surrounding real spending by households, tight investment spending and slowing global trade weighed down trade expectations. The trade expectations index (TEI) remained at 54 during August, after recording levels above 60 in the months leading to June.
Sales and new-order expectations for the next six months remained at lower levels of 64 and 56 respectively, while supplier delivery expectations rose from 47 in July, to 51 in August. The current volatile trade conditions, however, lowered inventory holdings.
While employment conditions in the trade environment moved closer to positive territory, increasing from 45 to 48, the employment prospects fell two points to 48.