Belgium’s Business Confidence Remains Steady in August

Belgium’s business landscape has experienced stable business confidence in August, with a nuanced picture emerging across various sectors.

In the recent Monthly Business Survey conducted by the National Bank of Belgium, it was revealed that the overall fall in business confidence, which began in April, has leveled off. However, this stability masks divergent developments at the sector level.

Among the key findings:

  • The business climate improved slightly in the trade sector, yet it deteriorated in the building industry. The manufacturing industry and business-related services showed little change in their business climates.
  • Traders are anticipating a rise in demand, leading to an increase in their orders with suppliers. However, employment expectations were somewhat muted, although this did not prevent the synthetic indicator from rising after two months of decline.
  • Confidence in the manufacturing industry remained stable, with strong growth observed in demand expectations.
  • In the building industry, confidence suffered due to gloomier demand expectations and a less favorable assessment of order books.
  • The business-related services sector experienced a recovery in general market demand expectations and an improved assessment of current activity. However, there was a more reserved opinion regarding expectations of their own activity.

Notably, the smoothed synthetic curve, which reflects the underlying economic trend, continues its downward movement started in July, influenced by recent negative results.

The quarterly business survey on credit conditions for July 2023 also revealed notable insights. General conditions to access bank credit eased somewhat compared to the previous quarter. While 37.3% of surveyed firms considered credit conditions to be tight, this percentage remains high by historical standards.

For the third consecutive quarter, the perception of access to bank credit improved in the business-related services sector. Across various sectors and firm sizes, there were fluctuations in the perception of credit constraints.

In conclusion, Belgium’s business landscape shows a mix of stability and variations across different sectors, providing insights into the evolving economic climate.