The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today (January 19) the results of the Quarterly Business Tendency Survey for the first quarter (Q1) of 2018.
For all surveyed sectors taken together, the proportion of respondents expecting their business situation to be better (13%) in Q1 2018 over Q4 2017 is slightly higher than that expecting it to be worse (11%).
When compared with the results of the Q4 2017 survey round, the proportion of respondents expecting a worse business situation in Q1 2018 as compared with the preceding quarter has increased to 11%, against the corresponding proportion of 7% in Q4 2017.
Analysed by sector, more respondents in the financing and insurance sector and retail sector expect their business situation to be better in Q1 2018 as compared with Q4 2017, relative to those expecting a worse business situation. In the construction sector and manufacturing sector, however, more respondents expect their business situation to be worse, as compared to those expecting a better business situation.
A Government spokesman cautioned that the results of the survey should be interpreted with care. He said, "In this type of survey on expectations, the views collected in the survey are affected by the events in the community occurring around the time of enumeration, and it is difficult to establish precisely the extent to which respondents' perception of the future accords with the underlying trends." The enumeration period for this survey round was from December 4, 2017 to January 12, 2018.
Volume of Business/Output
Respondents in quite a number of surveyed sectors expect their volume of business/output to increase on balance in Q1 2018 as compared with Q4 2017. In particular, more respondents in the retail sector and financing and insurance sector expect their volume of business/output to increase, as compared to those expecting it to decrease. On the other hand, more respondents in the construction sector expect their volume of output to decrease, as compared to those expecting it to increase.
Respondents in most of the surveyed sectors expect their employment to remain broadly unchanged on balance in Q1 2018 as compared with Q4 2017. Significantly more respondents in the financing and insurance sector expect their employment to increase in Q1 2018 over Q4 2017.
Selling Price/Service Charge
Respondents in most of the surveyed sectors expect their selling prices/service charges to remain broadly unchanged or to go up in Q1 2018 as compared with Q4 2017. More respondents in the accommodation and food services sector expect their selling prices/service charges to go up. On the other hand, more respondents in the construction sector expect the tender prices to go down, as compared to those expecting an increase in tender prices.
The survey gathers views on short-term business performance from the senior management of about 570 prominent establishments in various sectors in Hong Kong with a view to providing a quick reference, with minimum time lag, for predicting the short-term future economic performance of the local economy.
The survey covers 10 major sectors in Hong Kong, namely manufacturing; construction; import/export trade and wholesale; retail; accommodation and food services (mainly covering services rendered by hotels and restaurants); transportation, storage and courier services; information and communications; financing and insurance; real estate; and professional and business services sectors.
Views collected in the survey refer only to those of respondents on their own establishments rather than those on the respective sectors they are engaged in, and are limited to the expected direction of quarter-to-quarter change (e.g. "up", "same" or "down") but not the magnitude of change. In collecting views on the quarter-to-quarter changes, if the variable in question is subject to seasonal variations, respondents are asked to provide the expected changes after excluding the normal seasonal variations.
Survey results are generally presented as "net balance", i.e. the difference between the percentage of respondents choosing "up" and that choosing "down". The percentage distribution of respondents among various response categories (e.g. "up", "same" and "down") reflects how varied their business expectations are. The "net balance", with its appropriate sign, indicates the direction of expected change in the variable concerned. A positive sign indicates a likely upward trend while a negative sign indicates a likely downward trend. However, the magnitude of the "net balance" reflects only the prevalence of optimism or pessimism, but not the magnitude of expected change, since information relating to such magnitude is not collected in the survey.
Furthermore, owing to sample size constraint, care should be taken in interpreting survey results involving a small percentage (e.g. less than 10%) of respondents in individual sectors.
Chart 1 shows the views on expected changes in business situation for the period Q1 2017 to Q1 2018.
Table 1 shows the net balances of views on expectations in respect of different variables for Q1 2018.
January 19, 2018