CEOs mood upbeat

2012-03-28 11:01

The mood among chief executive officers is looking up for the first time since the first quarter of 2011.

“The Merchantec CEO Confidence Index bucked its downward trend of the previous three quarters to increase by 20 percent to 65.6 in the first quarter of 2012,” Merchantec said in a statement.

This was the highest score since the index’s inception in the second quarter of 2009. CEOs in all industries showed improved confidence in the first quarter of 2012.

“A noticeable improvement in the confidence of CEOs across all sectors suggests that the economic fears which dominated 2011 may be dissipating,” Merchantec said.

Over half of CEOs in all sectors said they were confident in the ability of the 2012 Budget to maintain macroeconomic stability in South Africa and to support enterprise and job creation.

The highest score was recorded in the basic materials sector, which includes mining. The confidence of CEOs in this sector improved 19% to a score of 68.

“This comes as no surprise considering low interest rates, continued high commodity prices and government’s indication that the nationalisation of mines will not be pursued.”

This sector recorded a 33% increase in sentiment towards economic conditions and a 140% surge in confidence in their ability to obtain debt or equity capital, Merchantec said.

The industrials sector, which includes the construction sector, was positive about the planned increase in infrastructure spend outlined in the Budget. Its confidence increased 22% to a score of 65.6.

The lowest increase in confidence was recorded in the financial sector, which increased 12% to a score of 66.3.

“This increase may have been tempered by persistent wariness of other similarly highly indebted Eurozone countries such as Greece, requiring similar debt swaps as well as renewed concerns about China’s growth outlook,” Merchantec said.

The index, which consists of five components, surveys CEOs of top South African companies.

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