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Load shedding dents business confidence

| Economic factors

The quarterly business confidence index stumbled in the first quarter of 2015 due to the negative impact of load shedding, which was slightly offset by lower fuel prices and inflation, a survey showed.

NThe Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) survey, conducted by the Bureau for Economic Research, fell to 49 points in the first quarter from 51 in the previous three months.

This reflected an improvement in retail confidence on the one hand, against a setback in the building and manufacturing sectors on the other.

"A consumer theme of sorts is re-emerging to the benefit of certain retailers and wholesalers, as well as new-vehicle dealers," said Etienne le Roux, chief economist at RMB.

"This is just as well, as such service-oriented sectors are less energy intensive than manufacturing, which is a loser in the context of current electricity shortages and muted global trade that continues to hamper exports."

The economy is struggling due to structural handicaps, including a nagging power crunch that has resulted from state power Eskom's inability to raise funds to upgrade its creaking generating infrastructure.

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