Johannesburg – The seasonally adjusted Trade Activity Index (TAI) improved slightly by four index points in September, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said on Tuesday.

“Although the… TAI improved from a low level of 44 in August 2014 to 48 in September, trade conditions remained tight and in negative territory,” Sacci said in a statement.

“The September 2014 level is slightly below the TAI of 50 a year ago. Trade conditions are currently challenged to exceed 50.”

On an unadjusted basis, the TAI improved by five index points from 43 in August to 48 in September.

Uninspiring economic growth of between % and 2%, difficulties in recovering from labour disruptions, financially pressured households, and below par export volumes led to restrained trade conditions.

“The sales volumes and new orders sub-indices rebounded, and after being six and five points down in August respectively, both indices recovered to 47 in September,” the chamber said.

“However, both indices remained in negative territory. Supplies and backlogs on orders both improved, but the inventories index declined by three points to 50 in September.”

The tight trade conditions continued to contain price pressures, with the sales price index at 55 and the input price index at 68 in September.

Although both price indices increased in September, the levels were below the average of 62 for sales prices, and 73 for input prices in the first nine months of 2014.

“The respondents to the Sacci September 2014 Trade Survey remained positive about trade conditions for the coming six months and the seasonally adjusted expectations index recorded a level of 62,” it said.

“Expectations for both sales and input prices correspondingly remained virtually unchanged at 60 and 70.”

The employment conditions index in the trade environment increased from 45 in August to 47 in September, while prospects for employment improved slightly, as the expectations index rose to 53 from 52 in August.