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Bahrain Business Outlook Bright

Confidence in the future prospects for business in Bahrain among local businessmen has increased in the second quarter of this year, a new study says. The study was released by HSBC Middle East.

The latest HSBC Gulf Business Confidence Index - a comprehensive survey of confidence levels among GCC business people - reports confidence among Bahrain's business community has risen nine index points on first quarter results. The index is calculated using the results from the first quarter as a base, with a score of 100.

The latest second quarter survey measures changes from that base to indicate rising or falling levels of business confidence.

A score greater than 100 indicates a shift in the positive direction. A score lower than 100 indicates that business confidence is showing a negative trend.

Bahrain's latest score is 109 - a clear increase in the confidence recorded earlier this year.

That increase in confidence puts the country second only to Qatar, on 114, and the second quarter survey showed the UAE, Saudi and Oman are almost exactly on a par with first quarter, with Kuwait falling to a score of 95.

Overall, HSBC said the figures showed the majority of workers maintaining their positive outlook on prospects for the next quarter.

Compiled with polling organisation YouGov Siraj, HSBC surveyed 1,063 business people in the GCC states. The second quarter results show a strong correlation to the first quarter, with the prevailing mood of business once again being one of expansion and growth.

Among the key findings are that 57 per cent expect profits to grow by more than 5 per cent this year, against 59 per cent in the first quarter and more than half (52 per cent) are planning to increase investment in their business this year.

'The consistency of results in the Index reflects the sustained strength of the regional business environment in the first half of this year,' said HSBC Global Banking in the Middle East chief executive Antoine Cahuzac,.

'We continue to operate in a benign environment for business, and the Index reflects the positive outlook among the business customers of HSBC in the region,' he added.

Among the risks that the Gulf's business community face are rising inflation, rising property costs, and constraints on human capital.

More than 49 per cent of businesses see inflation as a threat, up from 48 per cent in the first quarter. The challenge of keeping up with staffing requirements has fallen slightly from 29 per cent to 25 per cent, although it remains an issue. The cost of real estate remains a major challenge, with 47 per cent citing this overhead as having a negative impact on their business - unchanged from first quarter.

'The findings of the Business Confidence Index underline what we are hearing from our customers: that Gulf business remains in good health,' said HSBC Middle East regional head of commercial banking Keith Bradley. (Trade Arabia News Service)

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