(Yicai Global) March 9 -- Economists are feeling more optimistic about China's economy, with the confidence index hitting a three-year high in the Yicai Chief Economist Survey.
The survey, held in February in the lead-up to the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, showed a confidence index of 51.1 for the month of March, the seventh consecutive month above 50 and highest figure since November 2013. All respondents were optimistic, with figures ranging between 50.2 and 53.
The economists predict a slowdown in consumer price index growth, but a rise in the producer price index. On average, respondents expected the CPI to rise 1.53 percent last month, lower than the actual 2.5 percent figure for January released by the National Bureau of Statistics. The PPI forecasts for February averaged 7.57 percent growth, 0.67 percentage point up from the NBS's actual figure from a month earlier.
The forecast for total retail sales last month averaged 10.49 percent growth, up slightly from 10.2 percent during the same period last year. Growth of industrial value added was expected to increase 6.25 percent in the first two months of the year, 0.85 point higher than figures the NBS published for the same period last year.
The economists expect the growth of investments in real estate development to have risen to 5.96 in January and February, some 3 points higher than the actual growth published by the NBS last year. They forecast the growth of investment in fixed assets to decline to 8.37 percent, 1.83 points lower than the figure published by the NBS for the same period a year earlier.
Respondents' expectations of the year's fiscal and monetary policies are in line with the government's work report, predicting fiscal policy to be more positive and efficient, while monetary policy remains neutral. Those surveyed expect no reduction in the benchmark interest rate for deposits and lending, while the open market interest rate may rise several times.