SA business mood at four-month high on tourism boost

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An index measuring South African business sentiment rose to a four-month high in July as tourism numbers and new vehicle sales increased.

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) business confidence index rose to 110.3, from 108.5 in June, and the reference year was adjusted to 2020 to account for the latest trends in the economy and financial markets, the group said Wednesday in an emailed statement.

That’s the highest level since March and may signal the business climate is gradually returning to normality, Sacci said. 

New vehicle sales rose 31% in July from a year earlier - more than economists expected - pointing toward medium-term investment, Sacci said. The latest tourism data showed the number of visitors almost doubled year-on-year in May and income from tourist accommodation increased by 87%. 

Still, a slowdown in economic growth and difficulties in addressing rampant unemployment are likely to weigh on sentiment in coming months.

The International Monetary Fund last month cut its global growth outlook for this year to 3.2%, from a 3.6% forecast in April and warned that the world economy may soon be on the cusp of an outright recession. That’s as central banks have unleashed the most aggressive tightening of monetary policy in years to cool surging inflation.

South Africa’s central bank expects the economy to grow 2% this year, which will be insufficient to make a dent in its unemployment rate of 34.5% -  the highest on a global list of 82 nations monitored by Bloomberg.

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