November 28, 2017 / 10:03 AM / a year ago

South Africa's Q4 business confidence slips slightly

Nov 28 (Reuters) - South African business confidence slipped deeper into negative territory in the fourth quarter, with an improvement in motor trade confidence offset by weakness in retail, building contractors and manufacturing, a survey showed.

The Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) business confidence index compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research fell to 34 points in the fourth quarter from 35 points in the third quarter, remaining firmly below the 50-mark separating the net positive and negative territories.

“The overall RMB/BER BCI effectively moved sideways as an improvement in motor trade confidence was offset by deteriorations in the retail trade, building contractors, and to a lesser extent, the manufacturing sector,” RMB said.

South Africa emerged from a recession in the second quarter as agriculture helped the economy expand more than expected, official figures showed.

But the country has also suffered repeated high-level corruption scandals and political turmoil.

“The government has a narrow window of opportunity to put in place an action plan to change the country’s longer-term growth prospects for good. We need bold and unpopular solutions for the jam South Africa is in,” said Ettienne Le Roux chief economist at RMB.

Central bank deputy governor Daniel Mminele said in October that GDP growth was unlikely to be maintained at levels achieved in the second quarter. (Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru, Editing by William Maclean)

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