WASHINGTON - A survey of small and mid-sized companies in 12 major global markets showed growing confidence in the state of global trade, Europe's biggest bank, HSBC, said on Tuesday.

We are seeing signs of what could be the start of a global trade recovery, said William Nowicki, head for trade and supply chain at HSBC-North America. The survey said companies expect more orders and better access to credit and hold a stable outlook on buyer and seller risks, Nowicki said.

World trade fell dramatically beginning in late 2008 as both consumers and businesses cut back on spending in response to the worst economic downturn in decades.

Tight credit market conditions also contributed to the big slump in the trade.

The survey showed an overall positive outlook with an average global reading of 110 on a scale of zero to 200, with 100 as a neutral reading, HSBC said.

Trade volumes have rebounded in recent months, but still remain well below pre-crisis levels.

The HSBC survey showed confidence was highest in China, which reached 121 on the index, followed by Indonesia at 120 and the United Arab Emirates at 118.

The United States and Australia both came in at 107 on the index, below Brazil, Singapore and Vietnam which each had a reading of 110.

Malaysian businesses were the most pessimistic with a reading of 92.


Respondents saw the United States as the most promising export market in the next three months, HSBC said.

At the same time, more than 40 percent of U.S. companies expected an increase in trade volume in the next three months and half expected either slight or significant global economic growth, HSBC said.

The HSBC Trade Confidence Index surveyed more than 3,500 small and mid-market businesses in August and September, including 300 companies in the United States for the first time.

The survey showed concern about credit availability trailed fluctuating exchange rates, demand and profitability as barriers to growth in trade.

Most respondents worldwide expected good access to credit, with 59 percent saying it will stay the same and nearly a third saying it will increase.

Almost 90 percent of U.S. businesses expected the same or greater access to trade finance over the next three months.

Forty-four percent of respondents expected trade volumes to grow in coming months, about triple the 15 percent who expected trade to contract, HSBC said. (Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)