Taipei: Consumer confidence weakened from a month earlier in February at a time when an epidemic of the COVID 19 coronavirus, originally from the Chinese city of Wuhan, has escalated worldwide, according to National Central University (NCU).
Citing a survey conducted during Feb. 18 21, NCU said Taiwan's consumer confidence index (CCI) for February fell 1.37 points from a month earlier to 83.93, with all of its six factors moving lower in the month.
The CCI reflects public confidence in the coming six months in six different areas employment, family finances, consumer prices, the local economic climate, the stock market and the likelihood of purchasing durable goods.
Dachrahn Wu (???), director of NCU's Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development, said that despite a fall in the February CCI, the magnitude was not intolerable.
Wu said that the slight drop in Taiwan's consumer confidence reflected the relatively small spread of the virus in the country, compared with the rapid global contagion, showing that Taiwan's efforts to contain the disease appeared effective.
Since the new coronavirus broke out in Wuhan at the end of December, there have been more than 83,000 confirmed cases reported worldwide, with over 2,800 deaths, mainly in China.
Outside China, cases have risen sharply day by day in several countries such as South Korea, Italy and Iran.
In Taiwan, the number of confirmed cases had hit 39 as of Saturday, up five from a day earlier, but with only one fatality.
Among the six factors of the CCI, the sub index on the equity market over the next six months suffered the steepest drop of 2.6 points from a month earlier to 65.50.
Wu said the U.S. equity markets appeared volatile in recent sessions due to fears over the virus spread worldwide, pushing down Asian markets, including that of Taiwan, so it is worth watching how the global stock markets will react to how the contagion evolves.
This week, the benchmark weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, or Taiex, fell by 3.37 percent, or 394.18 points, in just four trading sessions to close at 11,292.17 Thursday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged about 2,000 points between Monday and Wednesday. Taiwan's market was closed Friday for a public holiday.
The Dow fell an additional more than 1,500 points in the last two trading sessions of this week. Market analysts said the Taiex could suffer more when trading resumes Monday.
Meanwhile, the sub index on consumer prices over the next six months dropped 2.15 points from a month earlier, the second largest fall among the six factors, to 51.25, the survey found.
According to the poll, the sub indexes on family finances, the likelihood of purchasing durable goods, the local economic climate, and employment also delinked 1.25, 1.2, 1 and 0.05, respectively, to 96.25, 111.05, 92.85 and 86.65 in February.
Wu said the epidemic is expected to hurt private consumption, as many consumers prefer to stay at home to avoid infection, adding that the local tourism and transportation industries could see heavier damage and the local job market could weaken with the number of workers who take unpaid leave expected to move higher.
According to NCU, a sub index score of 0 100 indicates pessimism, while a score of 100 200 shows optimism.
In other words, the sub index on possible purchases of durable goods indicates optimism for the coming six months, the university said.
The survey collected 2,756 valid questionnaires from local consumers aged 20 and over. It had a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of plus or minus 2.0 percentage points.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel