Hong Kong and China optimistic about the year ahead

HONG KONG – As the economy continues to stabilise, at least to some extent in much of the world, are consumers’ feelings following suit? According to Synovate’s first release of results on consumers’ perception on the economy from the “Synovate Global Trends study,” consumers in China and Hong Kong are the top groups in Asia feelingthe most optimistic about their market’s economy and what’s ahead.

This first release of results on consumers’ perception on the economy from the “Synovate Global Trends Study” surveyed over 23,000 respondents across 28 markets, including China and Hong Kong, revealing which markets are the most optimistic and pessimistic about their country’s economic condition and job market, consumer’s view on their personal financial situation, what they expect ahead on these factors in thecoming months, and whether now is a good time to buy/ sell a car or a house.

Consumers in China and Hong Kong optimistic about the economy ahead China ranked near the top amongst the 28 countries surveyed in terms of the markets’ Consumer Mood Index. The Synovate Consumer Mood Index asks respondents a series of questions about their own and their country’s current and future economic prospects, including the economy in general, their personal economic situation and the job market in their country. China is the 4th highest market in feeling positive about their economy, while Hong Kong is not far behind in the 7th spot.

Ranking of countries base on their Consumer Mood Index:

1. Brazil (Consumer mood index of 137)

2. Sweden (129)

3. Colombia (125)

4. China (123)

5. United Arab Emirates (119)

6. South Africa (116)

7. Hong Kong (114)

8. Norway (114)

9. India (111)

10. Chile (108)

On the other hand, respondents in five of the G7 countries feel quite pessimistic regarding the economic situation in their countries, with Japan (75), France (75), Italy (76), UK (77) and the US (91) all showing a low Consumer Mood Index.

Commented Susanna Lam, Research Director at Synovate: “China and Hong Kong are the top markets in Asia showing such high optimism toward their own market’s economy.

Respondents in these markets think the economy is better than it was six months ago, and they believe the economic situation in the upcoming months will be better than it is today.”

Fifty-six percent of consumers surveyed in China believe the overall economic situation in China will be better in the upcoming months (26% said remain the same as now, 14% worse than now). Close to half (49%) indicated their personal economy will become better (41% said remain the same as now, 7% worse than now), while 41% think the job market will improve in the coming months (35% said remain the same as now, 19% worse than now).

“In Hong Kong, respondents are more reserved about the market ahead,” said Lam. “Over half (56%) believe the economy will remain about the same as the current situation (30% said the economy will become better than now, 12% worse than now), while seventy-two percent indicated so about their personal economic situation (17% anticipated it will become better, 10% worst). Toward the job market, close to 60% said it will maintain about the same (27% said it will improve, 11% worse).”

Hong Kong top market globally to indicate “Not a good time to buy a house, a bit contrary to what we are seeing globally, housing prices in Hong Kong and China continue to go up, up and up in 2010. The inflated housing market deters consumers from buying property,” said Lam.

“In Hong Kong, four out of five respondents (84%) indicated it is a bad time to buy a house, the top market indicating this amongst the 28 markets surveyed. While 74% of those surveyed in mainland China, the second on the list, indicated so.” What about selling a house? The opinion is more diverse, said Lam.

Fifty-two percent of respondents in Hong Kong said it is a bad time to sell, while 41% believed it is good. In China, 56% said it is not ideal to sell versus 40% saying it is.

“The interpretation on this can be two fold: those indicating it is a bad time to sell are anticipating that the housing market will continue to up, hence they want to hold it off until a few months later to see how the market evolves. On the other hand the group of pro-sellers are encouraged by the already boosted market and want to gain some return on their property investment now,” commented Lam.

Furthermore, a question on whether it is a good time to purchase a car in the next 12 months was asked. Sixty percent of those surveyed in Hong Kong indicated it is a bad time (20% said good time to purchase). For China, respondents are more balanced with 48% saying it is not opportune to buy versus 45% believing the purchase is good to go.