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Business expectations for the second quarter of 2012

     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today (April 27) the results of the Quarterly Business Tendency Survey for the second quarter (Q2) of 2012.

Business situation

     For all surveyed sectors taken together, more respondents expect their business situation to be better (23%), as compared to those expecting it to be worse (13%), in Q2 2012 over Q1 2012.

     The business outlook for Q2 2012 shows improvement when compared with the results of the previous survey round.  The proportion of respondents expecting their business situation in Q2 2012 to be better than that in the preceding quarter has increased to 23%, as compared with 15% in Q1 2012.

     Analysed by sector, respondents in almost all the surveyed sectors have favourable business outlook for Q2 2012 on balance.  In particular, more respondents in the sectors of transportation, storage and courier services; and financing and insurance expect their business situation to be better, as compared to those expecting it to be worse, in Q2 2012 over Q1 2012.  
     A spokesman of the C&SD cautioned that the results of the survey should be interpreted with care.  "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 March 8, 2012 to April 16, 2012.

Volume of business/output

     Respondents in all the surveyed sectors expect an increase in volume of business/output on balance in Q2 2012 over Q1 2012.  In particular, significantly more respondents in the construction; transportation, storage and courier services; manufacturing; and financing and insurance sectors expect their volume of business/output to increase, as compared to those expecting it to decrease.

     Respondents in all the surveyed sectors expect their employment to remain broadly unchanged or to increase on balance in Q2 2012 as compared with Q1 2012.  Significantly more respondents in the construction sector expect their employment to increase, as against those expecting it to decrease.  

Selling price/service charge

     Respondents in all the surveyed sectors expect their selling prices/service charges to remain broadly the same or to go up on balance in Q2 2012 as compared with Q1 2012.  The views that selling prices/service charges are expected to go up prevail more amongst respondents in the construction; and transportation, storage and courier services sectors.

Further information

     The survey gathers views on short-term business performance from the senior management of about 560 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 ten major sectors in Hong Kong, including the 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, 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 Q2 2011 to Q2 2012.

     Table 1 shows the net balances of views on expectations in respect of different variables for Q2 2012.

     The survey results are published in greater detail in the "Report on Quarterly Business Tendency Survey, Q2 2012".  Users can download the publication free of charge from the website of the C&SD (

     Users who have enquiries about the survey results may contact the Business Expectation Statistics Section of the C&SD (Tel.: 2805 6112 or e-mail:

Ends/Friday, April 27, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:30


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