China SME Confidence Index Report (2Q12)

       I. Overview of the Index

Standard Chartered Bank's SME Confidence Index in China for the current period was 54.15, down 3.48 percentage points from the previous period. The macro-confidence index, operating confidence index, investment confidence index and financing confidence index of the sub-index were 50.67, 54.55, 65.20 and 46.19, respectively. From the classification index, the decline in the confidence index of China's SMEs was caused by the decline in the operation of SMEs and the confidence index of investment. Macro confidence declined slightly, but financing confidence rebounded slightly. In the second quarter, macroeconomic operations were at a weak bottom. At the same time, the country introduced a series of policies and measures for steady growth. It is expected that the economic operation will gradually respond to relevant stimulus policies in the second half of the year, which will help stabilize the SME confidence index. Pick up.

Second, the macro confidence index

The macro-confidence index of SMEs in the current period was 50.67, which fell in two consecutive quarters, mainly due to the decline in the satisfaction of SMEs for their own industry development. Although the foreign trade export data has improved in May, it is mainly due to the reason of the lower data base last year. It is not optimistic about the future export situation in the short term. In the second quarter, the U.S. economic recovery faced many challenges. The number of employees was lower than market expectations, the real estate market was still struggling, and consumer confidence was weak. At the same time, the euro zone economy was still in a debilitating process, during which political Uncertainty adds complexity to the European debt crisis resolution. The above external factors have led directly to the fact that China’s external market cannot be significantly improved in the short term. In contrast, in the domestic market, after undergoing the first two years of active structural adjustment, the economic growth rate further declined. In particular, the slowdown in real estate investment has brought about no significant pressure on the economic downside risks and weakened the overall demand in the domestic market.

For this reason, the direction of policy regulation has changed, and monetary and fiscal policies have entered countercyclical operations. With inflation falling, monetary policy will have more room to operate in the second half of the year to ensure stable economic growth. At the same time, under the premise of adhering to the same real estate control, the investment in major projects such as infrastructure, railways, and water conservancy will be increased to make up for the negative impact of the decline in real estate investment. Recently, the central bank lowered the deposit reserve ratio and the benchmark interest rate for deposits and loans successively, injecting certain liquidity into the market and improving the credit environment for SMEs. The survey shows that the proportion of companies that hold tight views on the credit environment is decreasing. Conversely, the proportion of companies that hold a lax view is increasing, and SMEs are more optimistic about the credit environment in the next quarter.

III. Operational Confidence Index

The current operating confidence index was 54.55, a decrease of 5.91 percentage points from the previous quarter. The most important factor is the continued weakness in market demand. Due to the relative lack of demand, enterprises have high inventory levels. In order to digest inventory, companies have to compress production capacity and reduce the scale of raw material purchases, which leads to operational confidence. In addition, with the continuous fall in the level of inflation, especially the sharp decline in PPI, the continued upward trend in raw material prices and transportation costs has been curbed, and fell for the first time in this period. Based on the above two reasons, the current operational confidence index dropped significantly.

The reduction of new orders directly lowered the sales revenue of SMEs and brought no pressure on the operation of the company. The continuous weakening of market terminal demand has affected the source of raw material procurement for SMEs. The scale of SME raw material purchases has been reduced in this period. At the same time, the inventory of SMEs' products has increased, which has increased the pressure on companies to destock, and has directly lengthened the cycle of destocking.

In order to cope with the pressure of inventory, companies usually adopt a way to reduce production capacity and reduce production scale. Research shows that the utilization rate of SMEs in the current quarter has decreased significantly compared with the previous period. In addition, more than 20% of companies have adopted direct price cuts. Under this background, the weakening of the profitability of SMEs will be unavoidable and the living environment will be more severe.

IV. Investment Confidence Index

The current investment confidence index was 65.20, down 8.03% from the previous period. The decline was mainly due to the direct impact of the decline in operational confidence, which allowed SMEs to slow down their investment. This shows that the current short-term poor status of SMEs has negatively affected confidence in long-term development planning. Previously rising labor costs and employment scales have also shown signs of falling in this period, but this should be a short-term phenomenon. In the medium and long term, no matter whether the demographic transition brings about a reduction in the labor force or the continuous increase in labor costs, the continuous increase in the wages of the Chinese labor force will be a long-term trend. At the same time, the trend of sustained and steady economic growth in China has not changed, and the total economic output will continue to expand. This will continue to increase the demand for the labor force.

In addition, SMEs’ ​​willingness to invest in channels or marketing is declining in the overall economy. In this period, 47% of SMEs indicated that they would increase their investment, which was a drop of about 8 percentage points from the previous period, and it basically fell back to the fourth quarter of last year. At the same time, companies will minimize input spending, including R&D spending. At present, the investment level of most enterprises has shifted from growth to flat, while the proportion of companies that have actually taken reduction measures has not increased significantly. This shows that at present, there is limited space for the decline in the confidence level of SMEs in China.

V. Financing Confidence Index

The financing confidence index for the current period was 46.19, which was a percentage increase from the previous period and remained below the 50th break point. The current financing confidence index has not yet fully reflected the positive news released by the central bank on adjusting the deposit reserve ratio and the benchmark interest rate. It is expected that the liquidity released by the central bank and the favorable policies that may continue to lower the deposit reserve ratio or benchmark interest rate in the future can continue to improve the SMEs. Financing confidence. In this issue, both the non-bank financing costs and the bank financing costs, the proportion of floating costs for SMEs has been decreasing. With the macroeconomic outlook being less optimistic, banks are considering risk control and are more cautious about lending to SMEs with weaker anti-risk capabilities or weaker lending willingness. However, SMEs can still benefit from the overall liquidity improvement process.

Regarding the next quarter's financing environment, although the percentage of SMEs that are optimistic and not optimistic has declined, the future market liquidity will be expected to be good. In May, the amount of new loans reached the limit of 800 billion yuan. The increase in the total amount of financing will gradually increase the growth rate of M1 and M2 year-on-year. In addition, it is expected that the central bank will still have room to cut interest rates or lower standards in the second half of the year. Unless the macroeconomic level continues to be weak, companies’ sales, profits, or financial conditions have been severely tested, resulting in a significant reduction in banks’ willingness to lend. Otherwise, the financing environment for SMEs is expected to improve further.

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