CAPE TOWN, March 13 (Xinhua) -- The seasonally adjusted Trade Activity Index (TAI) in South Africa declined notably by five index points to 49 in February 2013 from 54 in January 2013, according figures released on Wednesday.
Trade conditions declined between January 2013 and February 2013 whereas there is usually a strong increase in the TAI between February and January, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) said.
"The decline in the seasonally adjusted TAI this month is concerning when contextualized against the depressed business climate as reflected by the SACCI Business Confidence Index," the chamber said. Trade conditions, however, remained in positive territory in February 2013 and at about the same level as in January 2013. The strong improvement of the TAI from 42 in December 2012 to 52 in January 2013 was followed by a lateral move to 51 in February 2013.
All sub-components of TAI were marginally lower than in January 2013 apart from supplier deliveries. Supplier deliveries improved to 53 from 47 in January 2013 with new orders barely remaining in positive territory. There appeared to be some inventory accumulation in February 2013 as the index improved further to 53 from 51 in January 2013.
Trade prospects (TEI) for the next six months (survey range) remained good although the TEI declined slightly from 65 to 63. In February 2012 the TEI stood at 67 and declined to just above 50 in November 2012 before recovering to levels above 60 since December 2012. The seasonally adjusted TEI registered 61 in February 2013 and was above the 59 of December 2012, but 3 points lower than in February 2012.
Current and expected input prices continued to escalate and both indices increased by two points to 73 and 81, respectively.
The impact of the continuing weakening of the rand on import bills for fuel and capital equipment substantially increases the projections for higher inflation.
Employment conditions in the trade environment remained tight in February 2013 with the index moving deeper into negative territory from 49 in January 2013 to 45. The index on short-term employment expectations remained in positive territory at 54 compared to 56 in January 2013, according to the chamber.