China’s business confidence hit its lowest level since at least January 2013, a survey by World Economics showed on Monday, reflecting the impact of surging COVID-19 cases on economic activity and hinting at possible recession next year.
The index fell to 48.1 in December from 51.8 in November, showed the World Economics’ survey of sales managers at over 2,300 companies conducted December 1-16. The index was the lowest since the survey began.
“The survey suggests strongly that the growth rate of the Chinese economy has slowed quite dramatically, and may be heading for recession in 2023,” World Economics said.
The world’s second-biggest economy after the United States is facing a surge in COVID-19 infections following the abrupt relaxation of strict containment measures, hitting businesses and consumers alike, while a weakening global economy is hurting Chinese exports.
China’s GDP is expected to grow just 3% this year, its worst performance in nearly half a century.
The survey showed business activity fell sharply in December with the sales managers indexes in Manufacturing and Service Sectors both below the 50 level.
“The percentage of companies that claim to be currently negatively impacted by COVID has risen to a survey high, with more than half of all respondents now suggesting their operations are being harmed in one way or another,” the London-based data provider said.
China in recent days dismantled some key parts of the world’s toughest anti-COVID curbs and lockdowns that had been championed by President Xi Jinping, but impaired the economy and sparked popular protests unprecedented in his decade-long rule.
The top leaders and policymakers will focus on stabilising the economy in 2023 and step up policy adjustments to ensure key targets are hit, according to an agenda-setting meeting ended on Friday.