Taipei, Feb. 24 (CNA) Sentiment toward Taiwan's economy improved slightly in February after economic think tanks raised their forecasts for the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018, according to Cathay Financial Holding Co.
Citing its latest survey on economic sentiment, Cathay Financial said 26.3 percent of respondents thought the economy will do better over the next six months, while 34.9 percent felt it would get worse.
The results improved the economic optimism index for February to a minus 8.6 (reflecting the difference between pessimistic and optimistic respondents), up from minus 9.3 in January, Cathay Financial said.
In addition, economic optimism on current economic conditions rose to minus 6.2, up from minus 7.5 a month earlier, the financial holding conglomerate said.
The results showed the public was more upbeat about Taiwan's economic fundamentals, the financial conglomerate said, amid better growth forecasts.
Among the growing list of upbeat think tanks, the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research (TIER) on Jan. 25 raised its forecast for Taiwan's 2018 GDP growth to 2.34 percent, up 0.04 percentage points from TIER's forecast of 2.3 percent made in November 2017.
According to Cathay Financial's survey, 60.6 percent of respondents expected the local economy to grow at a pace of more than 2 percent in 2018, compared with 58.5 percent who felt that way in January.
The respondents expected an average of 2.07 GDP growth in 2018, compared with an average of 2.06 percent seen in the January survey, the February survey found.
With sentiment improving, the February index gauging current wage hikes rose to 4.0, from 2.7 in the previous survey, while the index gauging wage hikes over the next six months fell to 5.4 from 8.8, but stayed in positive territory for the fifth consecutive month, Cathay Financial said.
The stock market optimism index for February rose slightly to minus 15.2 (showing 15.2 percent more respondents pessimistic than optimistic about the market) from minus 16.6 in January, despite increasing volatility on Wall Street, the survey found.
But investors in stocks seemed more inclined to follow cautious investment strategies over the next six months, with the index gauging their appetite for risk falling to minus 2.1 in February from minus 1.6 in January.
The survey, conducted from Feb. 1-7, collected 14,796 valid questionnaires online from clients of Cathay Life Insurance and Cathay United Bank, which are 100 percent owned by Cathay Financial.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel