Mauritius business confidence lifts off three year low

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PORT LOUIS Dec 9 Business confidence in Mauritius improved in the fourth quarter as firms focused on new markets in Africa and the Indian Ocean region, a Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) survey showed on Monday. Confidence, which hit its lowest level in three years in the third quarter, crept back up to 88 points in the three months to December - still significantly below the 2010 base level of 100 points. Mauritius forecasts economic growth of between 3.8-4 percent next year against an estimated 3.2 percent this year, as it looks to fast-growing African and Asian markets to cut its traditional dependency on Europe, where growth is anaemic.

"A majority of entrepreneurs claimed to have strengthened their efforts towards new markets in the region and on the African continent to feed growth," Renganaden Padayachy, an economist at the chamber, told a news conference.

Easier access to private credit and improved trade logistics had also helped boost confidence, the chamber said, without elaborating. Mauritius trimmed its key repo rate in June by 25 basis points to 4.65 percent.

More than three quarters of the 81 firms polled said they did not expect to raise their prices in the next quarter. A survey of inflationary expectations released last week showed private sector firms anticipated inflation would be below 4.5 percent by June 2014. Inflation edged up to 3.5 percent in November.