Retail sentiment shoots up but industrial, consumer confidence dips

Public sentiment in retail sector shoots up but consumer and industrial confidence dips slightly, according to Central Bank report

The report was published by the Central Bank of Malta
The report was published by the Central Bank of Malta

Public sentiment in the retail sector has shot up but consumer and industrial confidence dipped slightly, according to a Central Bank report.

The latest monthly economic update for December placed the Economic Sentiment Indicator at 116, marginally up from 115 in the previous month.

The greatest shift in sentiment was registered in the retail sector, which shot up to 10 points in December, from -14 in November. The indicator therefore stood above the long-term average of 1. Additional survey data for the retail sector indicates that, compared to November, a smaller share of respondents expected their labour complement to rise while a larger share of respondents expected prices to fall in the coming three months.

Confidence in the construction sector also turned positive, reaching 3 from -2 in November, well above its long-term average of -23. The rise in sentiment in this sector reflected higher employment expectations for the three months ahead and a less negative assessment of order book levels. Other survey data for the month indicate that, compared to November, a larger share of respondents reported an increase in building activity over the preceding three months. However, selling price expectations over the next three months fell sharply, turning negative.

Meanwhile consumer confidence dipped from 4 in November to 2 in December, which is still a relatively high figure when compared with its long-term average of -20. The decline in December was driven by a dip in public expectation on the general economic situation and on their personal ability to save money over the next 12 months. Yet respondents’ expectations about their financial situation over the next year increased marginally.

The industrial confidence indicator fell slightly from 9 in November to 8 in December, but remained well above its long-term average of -4. The fall in sentiment was driven by production expectations for the three months ahead. On the other hand, managers’ assessment of current orders was less pessimistic while firms reported close to normal stocks of finished goods in December, after reporting above normal stocks in November. Supplementary survey data suggests that, on balance, in December a smaller share of respondents expected to increase their employment in the subsequent months. At the same time, a larger share of respondents expected to reduce their selling prices.

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