Business sentiment more upbeat in Q1

BUSINESS confidence in the Philippine economy improved in the first quarter of the year as respondents pointed out positive developments during the period.

This is according to the results of the latest Business Expectations Survey (BES) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) released during an online briefing on Thursday.

Redentor Paolo Alegre Jr., BSP Department of Economic Statistics senior director, reported that the January-March confidence index (CI) — computed as the percentage of companies that answered in the affirmative minus those who replied otherwise — rose to 17.4 percent, from the 10.6 percent recorded in the fourth quarter of last year.

“For the first quarter BES, the expectations of business owners are very optimistic. And in relation to our analysis, the current quarter BES result is a good coincident indicator for the first quarter GDP (gross domestic product) results. The correlation is around 0.5 percent with a level of significance of 1 percent,” he stressed.

Business owners are also optimistic when asked for their outlook for the second quarter of the year as the CI picked up to 42.8 percent from 37.4 percent.

Alegre said the respondents’ upbeat sentiment for the first two quarters of 2021 was attributed to the easing of quarantine restrictions and reopening of businesses, and observation that people are adapting to the “new normal.”

They also traced their confidence to the increase in volume of sales and orders; to the rollout of vaccine for coronavirus disease 2019; and to the development of new business/marketing strategies.

Respondents also cited expectations of higher demand for electricity and construction activities during summer for their more buoyant views for the second quarter.