SMEs bullish on business outlook: SurveyBy Zuraimi Abdullah
Malaysia's small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are more bullish over the local economy and their own business outlook in the next six months, according to a global survey by HSBC Group.
Malaysian SMEs' confidence had rebounded to pre-2008 crisis levels, HSBC highlighted in its semi-annual Small Business Confidence Monitor survey.
Malaysia's business confidence index climbed 24 points from 84 (in the second quarter of 2009) to 108 (in the fourth quarter). This puts the country at the same level as Hong Kong and back in the positive territory.
Vietnam remained at the top with 160, followed by India with 132 and China, 124.
"The survey is telling us that the confidence levels of local SMEs are improving and is moving up to the pre-financial crisis levels," HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd managing director (commercial banking) David Morton said.
"This is good as it not only means that they are confident that their local economies will strengthen, but that they are also ready to invest again in their own operations and people," he added.
Morton said this at a briefing on the survey's findings in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The survey was done once in six months, involving 300 SMEs each from 20 emerging and developed economies in Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America.
The results were used to calculate an index ranging from 0 to 200, with the latter representing the highest confidence level, while 100, neutral.
Morton said globally, a growing proportion of small businesses were bullish on the first half of 2010. Many, for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, were signalling increasing capital investment and recruitment.
In terms of GDP (gross domestic product), 55 per cent of Malaysian SMEs expect to maintain the same growth pace in the next six months. Another 24 per cent expect the pace to pick up faster.
HSBC, however, is more optimistic than the local SMEs when it comes to the domestic GDP expansion.
Morton said the group was sticking with its 6.8 per cent growth forecast for 2010 originally announced last December.
This was well above the market consensus as well as the government's "ultra-conservative" 2-3 per cent range.
This, he said, stemmed from the positive action and reaction from not just local SMEs, but also multinational corporations and large companies in Malaysia.