(Yicai Global) Jan. 10 -- The Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE) consumer confidence index nudged new highs in the fourth quarter of last year.
Consumer satisfaction with employment and property market regulatory policies has improved significantly. SUFE's Applied Statistics Research Center and its branch of the Shanghai Social Survey Center released the index today.
The consumer confidence index came in at 124 in the fourth quarter, up 2.5 points on the previous quarter, and 12 points on the year. Specifically, the consumer feedback index rose by 2.5 points by quarter and 11 points annually to 125, while the consumer expectation index rose by 2.5 points and 13 points for the quarter and the year to 123.
Consumer satisfaction with the Shanghai government's employment stimulation policies rose by 5 points quarterly and 20 points yearly to 125.
Economic development in the city continued to improve across the board, flowing from effective financial retrenchment and the gradual restoration of the structural balance in employment, which explains the growing optimism and improved public satisfaction with the city's work tableau. Shanghai's government greatly stresses employment, and has upped its support for startup firms, a policy that has proven very effective in spawning new jobs for locals and instilled greater public confidence in the labor market in consequence -- hence the improved satisfaction figures -- explained professor Xu Guoxiang, director of SUFE's Applied Statistics Research Center.
The public's view of real estate market regulation climbed by 8 points in the quarter and 24 percent in the year to 110 in the fourth quarter, for a new zenith since 2009, indicating Shanghainese are generally satisfied with regulatory policy and the current state of the real estate market.
Shanghai's housing policy has remained consistent since the city introduced the strictest real estate market regulation ever early last year. Tight property purchase and mortgage restrictions have reoriented the land market toward rental housing development and started to wean it off property sales. This has helped create long-term market expectations, curbed speculation, and supplied the needs of different home buyers. These measures have changed perceptions of real estate regulation and raised public satisfaction, Xu suggested.
The number of consumers anticipating an inflationary cycle fell in the fourth quarter, while the consumer expectation index revealed waning willingness to buy a home, and a steep increase in the number expecting a rate hike. Some 57 percent of respondents do not think it is a good time to buy property now, despite an uptick in willingness among potential homebuyers.
The investor confidence index dipped 3.5 points to 113 this quarter compared with the 105 recorded for the same period in the previous year. The index still lies within an optimistic range, however.
The dip in the investor confidence index is attributable to a slowdown in investment and producer price index (PPI) expansion. Further, a decelerated money supply and stiffened environmental regulation have also affected the outlook for economic and sales growth among entrepreneurs. The decline in the confidence index for institutional and retail investors correlates with dwindling A-share market profits and trade volume, Xu noted.
China's economy remained stable and upbeat in the fourth quarter, he added. The top-level strategy to 'seek progress while maintaining stability' and positive macroeconomic fundamentals and growth prospects have inspired confidence in the investment environment.