SINGAPORE - The service sector is slightly more gloomy about their prospects for the next six months, even as the Christmas season approaches.
Just 18 per cent of firms tip a better business outlook while 11 per cent are downbeat, according to data compiled by the Singapore Department of Statistics (Singstat).
This is a bleaker outlook than three months ago, when 21 per cent of services firms said they were upbeat and 8 per cent pessimistic.
Factory bosses tell roughly the same story, according to the Economic Development Board's (EDB) latest survey of business expectations in the manufacturing sector.
Just 8 per cent of manufacturers expect business conditions to improve for the next six months, while 7 per cent were downbeat.
Three months ago, only 3 per cent were pessimistic, and 9 per cent saw brighter prospects.
Marine and offshore engineering firms were the most optimistic. They expect to fill their order books with higher demand for oil and gas-field equipment, as well as replacement demand for oil rigs.
The electronics and precision engineering clusters were the most pessimistic. In the precision engineering cluster, the machinery and systems segment expects a seasonal softness in orders, particularly in semiconductor-related equipment, said the EDB.
All services industries except those in real estate, transport and storage, project brisker business in the next six months.
In the services sector, retailers and food and beverage services were the most optimistic, thanks to the upcoming festive season and school holidays. Hoteliers also expect higher tourist arrivals during the year-end holiday period.
Wholesalers of computer hardware and equipment are confident that new product launches will drive sales, said the EDB.
Meanwhile, real estate developers are bracing for a fall in demand due to Government cooling measures such as the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty and Total Debt Servicing Ratio.