KUALA LUMPUR: Manufacturers were surprisingly upbeat in the first quarter of this year, underpinned by higher sales, production volumes and expected export sales, according to a Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (Mier) survey.
Releasing the results of the Business Conditions Index (BCI) survey for the first quarter yesterday, Mier said BCI - which tracks domestic manufacturing activity rebounded 14.3 points quarter-on-quarter. The rebound, which more than erased the 11.9 points the BCI lost in the previous quarter, also reversed two consecutive quarters of declines. The BCI is also 14.4 points higher year-on-year, it said.
All eight components of the BCI showed increases from the fourth quarter of 2007. The main drivers of the rebound were sales, production volumes, expected production and expected export sales.
The survey also showed the capacity utilisation component of the BCI rose 2.3 points while domestic orders rose marginally. Capital investments and export orders were relatively unchanged.
The component for sales of manufactured goods and new domestic orders also showed increases in the first quarter, it said.
On the Consumers Sentiment Index (CSI), Mier said consumers were looking calmer lately but cautiously optimistic, yet hopeful.
The CSI fell 13.4 points to 115.4 points from a year ago, but it was still up 4.7 points from the fourth quarter. Mier said as the reading was still above the 100-point threshold, it showed that there was still optimism among consumers.
MIER said the lack of pay increases might be rattling consumers.
Only 24% of the households interviewed enjoyed better finances, down from 28% and 25% in the preceding quarter and a year ago respectively.