Manufacturing sector still cautious, TIER survey reports

By Ted Yang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Dec 25, 2009 - Page 12

Despite the global economic recovery and improving exports, the manufacturing sector remained cautious about the economy last month because of fluctuations in raw material price levels and the approaching end of its peak season, a survey said yesterday.

The survey, conducted by the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER, 台經院), showed that respondents viewing the business climate as bullish last month fell 17.3 percent from a month earlier, while those with a pessimistic outlook rose 6.7 percent.

“Now [the manufacturing sector] is going into its slow season, and last month the New Taiwan dollar depreciated and raw material prices were rising,” Chen Miao (陳淼), director of the macroeconomic forecasting division at the TIER, told a media briefing yesterday.

Although businesses received abundant export orders, their profits were weighed down, Chen said, adding that as raw material prices continued to fluctuate, businesses were not upbeat about the economic outlook.

The business climate gauge for the manufacturing sector last month stood at 116.45 points, up 1.14 points from a revised 117.59 points in October, the survey said.

On outlook for the next six months, 22.7 percent of respondents were pessimistic, up from 16.4 percent in October, while 33.7 percent remained optimistic, down from 21.4 percent the previous month.

However, it is a different story for the service industry. A separate survey by the Taipei-based research institute indicated yesterday that the food and beverage sectors recorded a better performance last month than in October.

“Domestic consumption is usually the strongest in the first quarter of the year. Toward the end of the year, food and beverage businesses and the wholesale and retail sectors are entering their peak seasons,” Chen said.