Thu, Feb 28, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Slow recovery hits economic sentiment

DOWNBEAT:The Council for Economic Planning and Development said that in spite of uncertainty toward the market, the indicators showed that the economy was recovering

By Camaron Kao and Amy Su  /  Staff reporters

Economic indicators flashed “yellow-blue,” signaling a slowdown, for the fifth consecutive month last month as a wobbling economic recovery dashed hopes of a significant rebound, the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) said.

The slower-than-expected economic recovery also prompted the council to revise down the signal for composite monitoring economic indicators in December last year from “green,” indicating recovery, to “yellow-blue.”

The score of composite monitoring indicators decreased by 3 points to 19 last month from December on the back of lower industrial production output, non-agricultural unemployment and a fall in imports of machinery and electrical equipment, the council said in a report.

The index of coincident indicators, which reflects monthly conditions for the economy, rose 0.2 percent to 99.1 last month, its second consecutive increase after the revision in December, because of increasing electricity consumption and smaller decrease in machinery and electrical equipment imports.

The index of leading economic indicators, which gauges short-term economic outlook, edged up 1.3 percent last month from a month earlier to 137.3 points, the report showed.

“The rising leading and coincident indicators showed that the economy is recovering, but uncertainties still remain as indicated by the revisions,” Hung Jui-bin (洪瑞彬), director-general of the council’s economic research department, told a press conference.

The index of leading economic indicators’ annualized six-month rate of change climbed 1.4 percentage points to 9.7 percent last month from a month ago, marking six months of consecutive improvement, the report said.

Hung said the nation’s economic outlook was still challenging, citing uncertainty over economic recovery in the US, Japan, China and the EU.

Separately, a survey yesterday showed that the consumer confidence index rebounded for the second consecutive month this month, marking the highest level since June last year, mainly due to stronger consumer confidence about investing in the stock market.

However, the index remained in the negative territory despite reaching its highest level in eight months, 75.24, a rise of 2.42 points from the previous month, a National Central University survey showed.

The index benchmark gauges public expectations of stock market performance, household finances, durable goods, job opportunities, consumer prices and the economic outlook for the next six months.

This month’s survey — which polled 2,442 people above 20 from Tuesday to Friday last week — showed improving sentiment in the five sectors, while concerns over consumer prices increased, the university’s Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development said.

“The index showed a significant rebound this month, providing more evidence that consumer confidence has been on a clear upturn track,” center director Dachrahn Wu (吳大任) said by telephone.

The stock market sub-index led the rebound by adding 7.3 points to reach 60 this month from January — its fourth straight month of rebound — followed by the sub-index of durable goods, which increased by 2.8 points to 87.85, the center said in its report.

The economic outlook sub-index gained 2.3 points from last month to 76.15 this month, while the sub-indices of household finances and job opportunities went up by 1.6 points and 0.95 percent respectively to 75.2 and 106.2, the report said.

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