Taipei, Consumer confidence weakened in March in reflection of uncertainty over the global economy, reversing a two-month rising streak, according to National Central University (NCU).
Citing a survey conducted during March 19-23, NCU said the consumer confidence index (CCI) for March fell 0.33 points from a month earlier to 84.36.
Dachrahn Wu director of NCU's Research Center for Taiwan Economic Development, said the weakness in the CCI came as the pace of global economic growth showed signs of slowing, and lingering uncertainty over the global trade friction between the United States and China still needed time to be resolved.
Wu said Taiwan's exports-oriented economy was feeling the pinch from the global economic slowdown, which affected consumer confidence in March.
In February, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics cut its forecast of Taiwan's economic growth for 2019 to 2.27 percent from an earlier estimate of 2.41 percent, citing a decline in exports.
Three of the six factors in the CCI moved lower in March, but the other three moved higher, according to NCU.
The CCI consists of six factors that reflect public confidence: employment, family finances, consumer prices, the local economic climate, the stock market and the likelihood of purchasing durable goods over the next six months.
The sub-index on consumer prices suffered the steepest fall of 1.35 points from a month earlier to 46.75 in March, followed by a 0.80 point fall in the sub-index on the stock market to 94.80, and a 0.55 points decline registered by the sub-index on family finances to 88.95.
On the other hand, the sub-index on employment scored the highest growth of 0.50 points from a month earlier to 100.65, while the sub-indexes on the likelihood of purchasing durable goods and the local economic climate also rose 0.15 and 0.05, respectively, from a month earlier to 91.00 and 84.00.
According to NCU, the sub-index on the local economic climate over the next six months hit the highest level since June 2015, when the figure stood at 84.60.
Wu said such a more upbeat mood about the local economic climate reflected stronger faith in domestic demand at a time when a group of Taiwanese investors operating overseas have pledged to invest in Taiwan to avoid the impact resulting from the trade disputes between the U.S. and China.
In addition, after political uncertainty was removed by the end of the local government elections in November, tourism in southern Taiwan showed signs of growing, which boosted consumption, Wu said.
Therefore, Wu said, the latest CCI showed caution toward outbound sales and optimism about domestic demand.
A sub-index score of 0 to 100 indicates pessimism, while a score of between 100 and 200 indicates optimism.
In other words, the university said, survey respondents were only optimistic about the labor market's prospects among the index's six factors over the next six months.
The survey collected 2,698 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