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Business activity expectations index almost reaches its neutral level – business outlook survey in March

Business activity expectations index almost reaches its neutral level – business outlook survey in March

A more benign external environment, reestablished supply chains, the improved functioning of the energy sector and rebounding consumer sentiment had a positive effect on business expectations in March. Companies across all of the surveyed sectors reported more optimistic expectations of their business performance and future economic outlook.

This is evidenced by the business activity expectations index (BAEI), which the NBU calculates on a monthly basis, apart from the forced break in March–May 2022. The BAEI, at 49.5, almost reached its neutral level in March 2023, compared to 45.0 in February. This is a high not seen since December 2021.

Trading companies reported the most optimistic expectations of their business performance and future economic outlook on the back of rebounding consumer sentiment, the improved supply of electric power and an increase in the supply of goods. In March, the sector’s index moved above its neutral level for the first time since November 2021, hitting 53.6 (compared to 47.0 in February). Companies markedly improved their views about their trade turnover and purchases of goods for sale. On the back of softer expectations for purchase prices, respondents declared intentions to cut their trade margins slightly.

The improved functioning of the energy sector, reestablished supply chains and a more benign external environment had a positive effect on industrial companies’ expectations. For the first time since February 2022, industrial companies expected more robust economic performance compared to the previous month, as the sector’s DI moved above its neutral level, to 51.2, up from 47.2 in February 2023. Respondents expected an increase in the amount of manufactured goods and the number of new orders for products, including export orders. Respondents markedly softened their negative expectations for the amount of unfinished products (unfulfilled orders), while also reporting weaker expectations for a rise in finished goods stocks.

On the back of seasonal factors, construction companies noticeably improved their negative performance expectations, the sector’s DI being 45.9 in March, up from 33.5 in February. Respondents reported intentions to purchase more raw materials and supplies and contractor services. At the same time, construction companies expected no changes in their construction volumes. They also significantly softened their negative expectations for the number of new orders.

Despite there being a seasonal revival, services companies reported the gloomiest economic outlook, the sector’s index being 45.7, up from 43.2 in February. Respondents somewhat improved their still pessimistic expectations for the amount of services provided, the number of new orders, and the amount of services that are being provided.

Most polled companies said they expected that purchase and contractor prices would grow at a slower pace. They also declared weaker intentions to raise their selling prices.

Employment expectations remained guarded. Companies across all polled sectors still report no intentions to expand their workforces. Trading companies reported the least pessimistic expectations.


This survey was carried out from 6 March through 24 March 2023. A total of 484 companies were polled. Of the companies polled, 46.5% are industrial companies, 28.9% services companies, 20.7% trading companies, and 5.0% construction companies; 32.9% of the respondents are large companies, 30.0% medium companies, and 37.2% small companies.

Out of the surveyed companies, 32.6% are both exporters and importers, 9.1% are exporters only, 16.3% are importers only, and 41.9% are neither exporters nor importers.

The findings presented reflect only the opinions of the respondents (top managers of Ukrainian companies), and should not be considered as NBU forecasts or assessments.

The monthly business activity expectations index (BAEI) is a tool for conducting latest assessments and detecting trends in economic development. It is calculated on the basis of surveys of Ukrainian real sector companies.

Monthly business activity expectations indices are calculated on the basis of respondents’ replies. These indices are as follows: sectoral indices (for each sector of the economy) and a composite index (describes the country’s economic performance over a month). A value of 50 corresponds to the neutral level. Index values above the neutral level indicate positive expectations.

Read more about the March 2023 survey in the Monthly Surveys of Companies Subsection of the Publications Section on the NBU’s official website.

The NBU started posting monthly survey results in the open data format.

The results of the next survey (for April) will be published on the first business day of May 2023.


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