Business owners in China have expressed confidence in the country's economic prospects thanks to the recent stimulus measures, even as they maintained a cautious outlook, according to a survey by the central bank.
The macroeconomic index, which was compiled based on more than 5,500 questionnaires, slumped to -38.6 percent, compared with -32.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008, which "almost touched the lowest level since 1993", according to a statement by the People's Bank of China on its website.
The 5.9 percentage point quarter-on-quarter slump in the index was nearly 30 percentage points less than that in the previous quarter, showing improving confidence in the country's growth prospects, according to the statement.
The first quarter business operation index fell by 5.1 percent quarter-on-quarter. It also showed signs of resumed business activity, as the drop was 9.1 percentage points lower than that of the previous quarter.
Chinese enterprises continued to receive decreasing orders in the first quarter, but similar to other indices, the market demand index also showed a smaller-margin drop, indicating a pick-up in both domestic and overseas demand.
But the latest Customs statistics show that China's exports slumped 25.7 percent year-on-year in February, supporting the warning by Minister of Commerce Chen Deming on Tuesday that the country's trade sectors would face tough times this year.
Business owners were more satisfied with banks in the first quarter as they have increased lending in the wake of the stimulus plan, the survey said.