The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci’s) trade conditions survey for December showed that activity had improved slightly on November, if adjusted for seasonal factors, while six-month prospects remained subdued.
The seasonally adjusted Trade Activity Index (TAI) was at 47, compared with 40 in November.
In December, the non-seasonally adjusted TAI declined to 40 from 43 in November, with the retail sales component having had a strong seasonal factor, as usual in December.
Sacci said expectations for the next six months remained negative, notwithstanding the Trade Expectations Index (TEI) having increased slightly to 45 from 44 in November.
The TEI for December was 14 points below the TEI for December 2017. December 2017 had expectations soar, mainly owing to the positive business climate that ensued after President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected leader of the African National Congress.
“Although 2019 holds new promises, political uncertainty, municipal strikes, looming load-shedding, land reform and the deteriorating global economy are impacting on trade conditions negatively,” Sacci stated.
The sales subindex declined by three index points to 43 in December, while the new orders index dropped by six index points, compared with November.
The sales outlook index was at 50, compared with 52 in November, while the subindex for expected new orders increased marginally from 44 in November to 45 in December.
The sales price index remained unchanged at 57 in December, and the input price index remained high at 71 in November, but dropped by three points in December. Price expectations indicated a slight increase in inflationary prospects.
The employment subindex improved marginally by one point to 39 and the six-month employment outlook increased from 37 to 41.