Malaysia continues to chart an economic recovery despite the challenging circumstances. KUALA LUMPUR: Businesses expect the economic recovery to be better in 1Q of this year as conditions are improving and most employers plan to retain their workers or even hire more staff, according to a survey by the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER). It said in a statement on Thursday the latest MIER-Business Conditions Index (BCI) posted a modest recovery of 25.3 points in the fourth quarter of last year to settle at 115.4 points. Underpinning the improvement in business sentiments was due to the impressive increase in sales, significant increase in domestic orders and export orders and a remarkable rise in industrial production volume. Other factors were a slight increase in capital investment and capacity utilisation, and a slight improvement in employment conditions, ” MIER said the 4Q improvement was is in line with the speedy recovery of 25.3 points in 3Q. Importantly, the index for the current quarter was above the threshold level, indicating an increase in business sentiments. “On a year-on-year basis, the index expanded at a favourable rate of +27.1 points as compared to the previous year (fourth quarter of 2018 to the fourth quarter of 2019) which was -6.9 points. MIER said this was a positive sign for Malaysia which was able to find effective ways of handling the Covid-19 pandemic by rolling out stimulus measures to offset the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. Relative to the previous quarter, most of the components of the BCI showed meaningful improvement. MIER said this was due to an increase in domestic demand as well as export demand, which affected sales. Hence, production volume and capacity utilisation have seen an increase. It also noted there was a marginal increase in capital investment which it attributed could be due to a higher prospect of business conditions in the near future. MIER also said the expected index (EI) increased markedly by 10.2 points to 109.9 points, which is above the threshold. Driving the higher EI was the expectations of domestic and export sales, production volume, and employment as in line with the previous quarter. “Manufacturers kept on believing in the economic recovery for the next quarter, ” it said. MIER said 59% of the manufacturers were expected to retain their current employees through 1Q of this year while 28% were expecting to hire new employees for the next quarter. Manufacturers welcomed Budget 2021’s strategy to generate and retain jobs, it said. Another positive point, it noted was a large number of manufacturers (63%) planned to retain the current domestic selling prices. “Therefore, it is likely that business conditions may be far better in the next three months as compared to this quarter, ” it said.However, the MIER-Business Conditions Index (BCI) contrasted with MIER’s Consumer Sentiments Index (CSI) for 4Q survey which revealed household finances at year-end were the weakest in nine months; lost wealth hit those in the low income, rural areas and south the hardest; while an all-time low of only 8% saw an increase in job opportunities,Consumers worried about income, job security, says MIER survey
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