Business optimism increased in February 2022 compared to January 2022, according to an ongoing poll by Verdict, as supply chain disruptions eased and Covid-19 cases declined.

Verdict has been conducting the poll to study the trends in business optimism during Covid-19 as reflected by the views of companies on their future growth prospects amid the pandemic.

Analysis of the poll responses recorded in February 2022 shows that optimism regarding future growth prospects increased by two percentage points to 62% from 60% in January 2022.

The respondents who were optimistic increased by two percentage points to 27% in February, while those very optimistic remained unchanged at 35%.

The respondents who were pessimistic decreased by three percentage points to 9%, whereas those who were very pessimistic increased by two percentage points to 16% in February.

The percentage of respondents who were neutral (neither optimistic nor pessimistic) decreased by one percentage point to 13%.

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The analysis is based on 368 responses received from the readers of Verdict network sites between 01 February and 28 February 2022.

Declining Covid-19 cases and easing supply chain bottlenecks restored business optimism in February

Business conditions and sentiments in Australia improved in February 2022, with 37% of the businesses experiencing supply chain disruptions compared to 47% in January 2022, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In addition, a lesser 15% of employers reported staff absenteeism due to Covid-19 during the month, as compared to 22% in January. Furthermore, about 23% of businesses reported a decrease in revenues in February compared to 41% in January.

Business confidence climate in Italy also increased from 105.3 in January to 108.2 in February, according to the IESI (Istat Economic Sentiment Indicator). The increase was driven by higher confidence in construction activities, planning and employment expectations, as well as market services.

Germany’s business confidence increased despite the Ukraine crisis, with the ifo Business Climate Index rising to 98.9 points in February, compared to 96.0 points in January. Companies were more satisfied with their business performance, with a clear improvement in expectations. The economic recovery, however, depends on the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, while the Ukraine crisis is expected to pose risks to growth.

Canada’s small business confidence over the short and long-term also increased considerably in February, with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB’s) Business Barometer® Short-term Index indicating a 16-point gain in business performance to 53.8 and the long-term optimism index increasing by eight points to 62.5. All sectors indicated some improvement, with 24% of businesses looking to hire workers. However, the economy seemed to be persistently impacted by supply chain disruptions, thereby limiting growth in production or sales.

India witnessed increased business activity in February, with services firms reporting stronger gains in sales and output driven by a quicker increase in new orders. Consequently, the India Services Business Activity Index rose to 55.3 in February from 52.8 in January. The quick roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines during the same period also contributed towards increased business optimism and growth prospects of firms.

Business confidence jumped to its highest levels in five months to 44% in the UK, according to the latest Lloyds Bank Business Barometer. The survey was conducted between 01 and 15 February 2022, just before Covid-19 restrictions were lifted across the UK. Ten among the 12 regions reported improvements in business confidence with the North East reaching a level of 57%, up 17 points. Business optimism also improved across sectors especially construction, retail, and manufacturing, which reached levels not witnessed since pre-pandemic.

The IHS Markit Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) also increased for the first time since September 2021 from 53.2 in January 2022 to 56.2 in February 2022. Business confidence and customer demand improved in Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector during the month leading to greater expansion in output, purchasing and new business.