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Confidence at Hungarian companies improves in March

Sentiment among Hungary's biggest companies as well as SMEs improved in March compared to February, the latest gauge by Ecostat shows.

Ecostat's TOP-100 index of confidence at Hungary's biggest hundred companies rose 3.6 percentage points to 53.2%. Ecostat's SME confidence index climbed 1.7 percentage points to 55.7%.

Among the TOP-100, 65% said output had fallen in the past three months and 29% said it was unchanged. Looking three months into the future, 44% said output would fall and 40% said it would remain unchanged. Ecostat attributed the improvement to planned government reforms and a loosening of lending conditions.

43% of the TOP-100 see domestic demand falling and 44% expect it to remain unchanged. Just 16%of companies expected an improvement in their market position, and about the same number expected a worsening.

One-third expect demand on export markets to fall, but 16% expect it to rise.

56% of the biggest companies said they were overstaffed, but only 7% said they would need to make layoffs and 11% said they planned new hires.

Just 39% of the companies said they planned developments, a low unseen for many years, though 54% said their liquidity was stable and 14% said it would improve in the coming half year. The percentage of companies that gave a poor assessment of their liquidity situation fell to 31% in March from 40% in February.

Among SMEs, 68% said output had dropped in Q1 and about half expect production to drop in the coming three months. 28% expect output to remain unchanged.

48% of SMEs see domestic demand falling and 38% expect it to remain unchanged. On foreign markets, 34% of SMEs expect demand to fall and 58% see it stagnating.

One-third of SMEs said the hiring situation had improved, but 53% said it was unchanged. 47% said they were overstaffed.

Just 27% of SMEs said they had investment plans at their companies.

56% said their financial situations would grow worse.

64% said stocks were lower than usual. (MTI – Econews)