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Business expectations for the fourth quarter of 2014
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     The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released today (October 24) the results of the Quarterly Business Tendency Survey for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2014.

Business Situation

     For all surveyed sectors taken together, slightly more respondents expect their business situation to be better (17%), as compared to those expecting it to be worse (10%), in Q4 2014 over Q3 2014.

     When compared with the results of Q3 2014 survey round, the proportion of respondents expecting their business situation to remain unchanged has slightly increased, from 72% to 74%.

     A Government spokesman 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 spokesman further explained that the enumeration period for this survey round was from September 8, 2014 to October 14, 2014. As most of the enumeration work had been completed in September 2014, the views collected might not yet reflect the change in business expectations arising from the disruptions to economic activities caused by the recent "Occupy Central" movement.

     Analysed by sector, significantly more respondents in the information and communications; and financing and insurance sectors expect their business situation to be better, as compared to those expecting it to be worse, in Q4 2014 over Q3 2014. In the import/export trade and wholesale sector, however, more respondents expect their business situation to be worse, as compared to those expecting it to be better.

Volume of Business/Output

     Respondents in most of the surveyed sectors expect an increase in volume of business/output in Q4 2014 over Q3 2014 on balance. In particular, significantly more respondents in the information and communication; and financing and insurance sectors expect their volume of business to increase, as compared to those expecting it to decrease. In the import/export trade and wholesale sector, however, more respondents expect their volume of sales to decrease, as compared to those expecting it to increase.

Employment

     Respondents in most of the surveyed sectors expect their employment to increase on balance in Q4 2014 as compared with Q3 2014. It is noted that significantly more respondents in the real estate sector expect their employment to increase.

Selling Price/Service Charge

     Respondents in all of the surveyed sectors expect their selling prices/service charges to remain broadly unchanged or to go up on balance in Q4 2014 as compared with Q3 2014. In particular, significantly more respondents in the construction; accommodation and food services; and information and communications sectors expect their selling prices/service charges to go up.

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 Q4 2013 to Q4 2014.

     Table 1 shows the net balances of views on expectations in respect of different variables for Q4 2014.

     The survey results are published in greater detail in the "Report on Quarterly Business Tendency Survey, Q4 2014". Users can download the publication free of charge at the website of the C&SD (www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/sp300.jsp?productCode=B1110008).

     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: [email protected]).

Ends/Friday, October 24, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:30

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