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HK economy in 2004 draws world's most confidence
( 2004-01-01 15:29) (Xinhua)

Hong Kong economy in 2004 has drawn the most confidence in the world, an international survey found as the New Year comes.

According to Thursday's South China Morning Post, some 76 percent of Hong Kong residents surveyed believe that the special administrative region's economic performance in 2004 will be better than that of 2003, more than doubling last year's 32 percent.

Only 16 percent of the respondents expect conditions to be the same as this year and just 6 percent feel conditions will worsen.

The improved confidence comes after a strong economic rebound in the second half of 2003.

Cementing that upsurge, the Hang Seng Index closed Wednesday at12,575.95, up 35 percent on the year and representing its first annual gain since 1999.

The global confidence survey, by research companies Taylor Nelson Sofres and Gallup International, underscores the public sentiment that Hong Kong's prospects have finally turned the corner.

"Hong Kong undoubtedly suffered more than most (places) throughout 2003, particularly through the impact of SARS," Taylor Nelson Sofres Hong Kong project director Andrew Davison was quotedas saying by the newspaper.

The number of Hong Kong residents who expect 2004 to be prosperous has nearly tripled from a year ago to 35 percent. And more than half of Hong Kong people expect the unemployment rate tofall over the next 12 months.

In contrast, a survey by Mastercard International 18 months agofound Hong Kong to be one of the most pessimistic places in the region.

Overall, the new poll, which surveyed more than 65,000 people between November and December in 60 countries and regions, found increased optimism around the world, with three of the top 10 mostoptimistic places located in the Asia-Pacific region.

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