BEIJING, March 20 -- Amid growing public concern about inflation, Chinese entrepreneurs and bankers are more confident in the country's economic outlook, the latest reports from the central bank revealed Tuesday.
The entrepreneurs confidence index rose 7.6 percentage points to 68 percent in the first quarter this year from the fourth quarter in 2012, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in a report, citing results from a survey of over 5,700 Chinese entrepreneurs.
In a separate report based on a survey of 3,100 bankers, the PBOC said their Q1 confidence index was up 17.2 percentage points to 72.2 percent from the previous quarter.
The data marked the second quarter of recovery since confidence dipped to a low in the third quarter, when China's economic growth slowed to 7.4 percent, the lowest pace in more than three years, on the back of worsening external demand and domestic property cooling policies.
Growth quickened to 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter on the government's pro-growth measures, and many analysts have forecast that the economy will expand by around 8 percent in the first quarter.
Though the country's economy is improving, the PBOC surveys found that more people are concerned about price rises.
Of the 20,000 savers the bank surveyed, around 62.1 percent considered prices "high and hard to accept" in the first quarter, up 3.6 percentage points from the previous quarter, according to the reports.
The latest official data show that China's consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, rebounded to a 10-month high of 3.2 percent in February.
The Chinese government announced earlier this month that its GDP growth target will remain around 7.5 percent this year and it aims to control inflation within 3.5 percent.
Tuesday's reports also show that home prices are still a major issue of public concern, with 68 percent of people surveyed describing prices as "high and hard to accept," up 1.3 percentage points from the previous quarter.
Over 34.4 percent reported that they expect home prices to rise in the second quarter, the report said.
According to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics, out of a statistical pool of 70 major Chinese cities it monitors, 66 saw home prices rise month on month in February, despite the government's control policies in the sector.