Business confidence at highest level since 2008

Entrepreneurs in the non-financial private sector have begun the year 2017 in a very positive mood. The business confidence indicator – which indicates the mood in the Dutch private sector – was up significantly in Q1 2017, ending at 14.7 points. This is the highest level since the outset of the crisis in 2008 and 5.5 points higher than in the previous quarter, Q4 2016. Business confidence is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Dutch 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).

Confidence up in most sectors

In nearly all sectors, business confidence improved relative to Q4 2016. The mood among manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, real estate agents and business services providers reached the highest level since measurements started in 2008.

Construction and wholesale in the lead

Confidence among entrepreneurs in the construction sector is highest for the second quarter in a row at 27.2 points. The indicator is only slightly lower than in the previous quarter (28.7), when it reached its highest level ever.

Wholesale entrepreneurs are relatively positive as well, improving from 18.7 points in Q4 2016 to 25.2 points in Q1 2017. Likewise, confidence among entrepreneurs in the sectors real estate and business services is above average.

Mood in mining and quarrying sector less negative

Mining and quarrying is the only sector with a negative outlook. The mood indicated by business owners in this sector is very low at -14.6, but this is a considerable improvement over Q4 2016 when the lowest level ever was reached, -32.6.
Business confidence by sector
 Q4 2016Q1 2017
Wholesale trade18.725.2
Real estate activities12.519.6
Business services8.317.8
Hotels and restaurants13.314.9
Retail trade912
Information and
Transport and storage4.88.1
Manufacturing industry4.36
Car trade and repair-0.32.7

Growing investments and staff numbers

The positive sentiment among entrepreneurs can also be seen from the expected increase in investments and staff numbers. A share of 21.8 percent expect investments in the current year to be higher than one year previously, versus 11.3 percent of entrepreneurs who are expecting a decrease. On balance, 10.6 percent of entrepreneurs have a more positive investment outlook for the current year compared to the previous year. At 27.3 percent on balance, the real estate sector has the most positive investment outlook.

On balance, 8.7 percent of entrepreneurs are looking to add manpower in Q1 while the share is highest in the construction sector at 23.4 percent.

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