South African business confidence inches lower in March

PUBLISHED: Wed, 07 Apr 2021 09:30:00 GMT

JOHANNESBURG, April 7 (Reuters) – South African business confidence inched lower in March, data showed on Wednesday, constrained by uncertainty over the country’s economic recovery and fears of another coronavirus lockdown.

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (SACCI) monthly business confidence index (BCI) slipped to 94.0 in March from 94.3 in February.

The measure had reached a two-year high in January after slumping to a record low in the immediate aftermath of pandemic last year.

The recovery in the first two months of the year was driven by eased lockdown restrictions on falling COVID-19 infections.

However, infections have began to creep up as winter approaches in the southern hemisphere. The slow pace of vaccine rollouts has hampered businesses as they are less confident about returning to normal operations.

“The business climate remained constrained due to continuing economic uncertainty and the prospects of a further lockdown in the offing with rumours of a third wave of infections becoming prevalent,” SACCI said in a statement.

“The vaccination process should play an important positive role in re-igniting the economy,” the business group added.

On Tuesday health officials said the country has signed an agreement to buy 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech dual-shot COVID-19 vaccine, boosting plans to accelerate the pace of vaccinations from this month.

South Africa is the worst hit country on the continent with more than 1.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 50,000 deaths. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana Editing by Promit Mukherjee)

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