Business confidence remains high

Business confidence has remained positive leading into Q3. The business confidence indicator of the Dutch private sector has been in a positive mood for two and a half years on end now. Most confident about economic developments are those in wholesale trade and in the construction sector. On the other hand, the mood is distinctly negative in the mining and quarrying sector, as reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Institute for Construction and Housing (EIB), the Dutch Organisation for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MKB-Nederland) and the Dutch Employers’ Organisation (VNO-NCW).

At the start of Q3, the business confidence indicator stood at 7.9. Although slightly below the level of Q2, it is still well above the average that has been observed since business confidence was first surveyed in 2008. Expectations in the private sector have been consistently positive since early 2014. The highest level, a 10, was reached in 2011, then followed by a downturn until an all-time low was reached in 2013. Since then, confidence has increased up to the present level. As of the second half of last year, business confidence has been stable.

Business confidence in the Netherlands, total non-financial private sector

Optimism in wholesale trade and construction sector

Wholesale entrepreneurs have been optimistic for nearly three years in a row. Their business confidence level stood at 17.9 at the start of Q3. The mood is positive due to positive expectations regarding turnover and the economic climate. The wholesale trade is currently the sector where confidence is highest.
Business confidence improved in the construction sector. The indicator rose from 12.2 in Q2 to 16.6 in Q3. Business owners are more positive about their order books than before. There is a favourable outlook on employment in the sector as well. An increasing number of companies are hitting barriers to their production as a result of a lack of qualified personnel. On balance, one out of four companies expect to hire more staff in Q3.
In the mining and quarrying sector, the mood is predominantly negative. Business confidence was at its lowest since 2009 with a value of -20.1. The negative outlook concerns both future output as well as order books and the economic climate.

Business confidence by sector
Business confidence by sector
 Q2 2016Q3 2016
Total private sector8.87.9
Wholesale trade19.217.5
Information and communication15.315.5
Real estate rental and trade3.310
Hotels and restaurants13.49.7
Business services12.58.4
Retail trade3.27.5
Car trade and repair-0.94
Transport and storage2.52.3
Mineral extraction-17.9-20.1

Investments expected to increase

On balance, 10 percent of companies in the private sector expect to invest more this year. The transport and storage sector expects the highest increase: on balance, 29 percent of businesses in this sector is planning higher investments. Expectations are similar in the construction industry, wholesale trade and manufacturing industry. The number of businesses with positive expectations has not been higher on balance since the survey was started up in 2008.

Investments: expectations in current year

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