Sat, Jan 14, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Public less bearish on economy, job market

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff Reporter

Public sentiment about the nation’s economy and job market is less bearish this month after the TAIEX staged a rebound on the back of the operations of a government fund, a survey by Cathay Financial Holdings Co (國泰金控) showed yesterday.

Nearly half of the respondents, 46.8 percent, expected the economy to deteriorate over the coming six months, while 24 percent took a positive view, the survey showed.

Another 24 percent said they were neutral about the outlook for the next six month, with the remaining respondents saying they had no idea on the subject, the monthly survey found.

“The figures are the best in three months, though they still suggest weak sentiment,” Achilles Chen (陳欽奇), an assistant manager at Cathay Financial’s economic research department, said by telephone.

RALLY

Chen attributed the improvement to better-than-expected economic data in the US and the TAIEX’s 7.79 percent rally since Dec. 20 after the government activated the National Stabilization Fund to support the local bourse.

The US, the world’s biggest end market for Taiwan-made electronic products, also appears on track for recovery although at a slow pace, Chen said.

The pickup in the latest US private consumption data was met with relief in Taiwan’s export-reliant economy, which has entered a technical recession on weakening external demand, he said.

Reports of rush orders eased worries about worsening unpaid leave, with 51 percent of respondents saying it would be more difficult to find jobs over the next 6 months and 30 percent believing there would be no change, according to the survey. Nearly 10 percent expect job-hunting to be easier going forward, the survey said.

The use of unpaid leave has been limited to technology firms, Chen said.

RESILIENT

“That explains why private consumption at home has proved resilient thus far,” he said.

A total of 44 percent of respondents said their plans to purchase durable goods over the following six months had not changed, while 14 percent indicated more willingness and 35 percent were less likely to do so, the survey found.

An overwhelming number of respondents considered it a good idea to stay away from the housing market, although 60 percent believe housing prices would hold steady or correct a minor 5 percent, the survey said.

SLUGGISH HOUSING

The finding bodes ill for housing transfers which are likely to remain sluggish this year after sinking to an eight-year low last year, Chen said.

The cautious sentiment extended to investments, as 47 percent of respondents said they had no intention of shifting their savings into the stock market, while 38 percent planned to cut holdings, the survey said, adding only 15 percent showed increased risk appetite.

The survey was conducted online between Jan. 1 and Saturday last week and drew 16,722 valid responses.

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