Economic Tendency Survey February 2021

Confidence strengthens in February

The Economic Tendency Indicator climbed from 100.9 in January to 103.6 in February. Other than in December, the indicator has risen every month since tumbling in April last year.

The confidence indicator for the manufacturing industry increased somewhat in February and continues to show much stronger sentiment than normal. The increase was due to more optimistic expectations for production. Despite the strong sentiment in the sector as a whole, the situation is much weaker in the consumer goods industry and has been since October.

The confidence indicator for the building and civil engineering industry edged up to 95.4. The improvement was due to stronger signals from housebuilders, while the indicator for civil engineering fell.

The confidence indicator for the retail trade gained 3.2 points after falling a little in January. The positive signals are from the motor trade, while the indicators for specialist retail and food retail are both somewhat below their historical averages.

The confidence indicator for the service sector climbed 3.7 points to 94.4. The rise was due chiefly to more optimistic expectations for demand for firms’ services in the coming months, and to their operations having performed better in recent months.

The consumer confidence indicator improved for a third month, rising from 94.4 in January to 97.5 in February. All of the questions included contributed to the improvement, other than expectations for personal finances, which deteriorated marginally. A more optimistic view of current personal finances made the greatest contribution to the increase in the indicator.