Chinese companies are increasingly optimistic on business activity, a new survey showed, even as recent data point to fresh signs of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
Confidence among firms in February rose to a one-year high, according to Markit's latest business outlook survey released on Monday. China's service industry was the most upbeat, with sentiment there surging to a three-year peak.
Mainland businesses also anticipate higher revenues over the next 12 months as well as an increased pipeline of new work, Markit said.
The results paint a contrasting picture against recent data. Chinese industrial production for the first two months of the year fell back to levels seen during the 2008 financial crisis, while fixed asset investment for January and February was the weakest since 2001 and retail sales hit a decade low.
"Recent policy changes, including reforms to banks' lending/deposit rates and reserve ratio requirements [RRR], are cited as part of key factors that can support growth over the next year," Markit economist Annabel Fiddes said in the report, explaining the factors behind the sanguine outlook.
Reports emerged last week that Beijing could fully liberalize deposit rates as early as this year, which would be two years ahead of schedule. IHS noted that the change would help smaller Chinese banks gain a foothold in the market and underpin hopes for the rollout of further financial reforms.
Meanwhile, the People's Bank of China has unveiled two interest-rate cuts as well as a reduction to the RRR for banks in the past four months, with more stimulus measures widely expected following last week's disappointing data deluge.