Sentiment among SMEs improving: Survey

SMEs generated a reading of 50.4 on the quarterly index, up 0.6 points from the previous survey, and indicates they are expecting some growth in the next six months.
SMEs generated a reading of 50.4 on the quarterly index, up 0.6 points from the previous survey, and indicates they are expecting some growth in the next six months. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Sentiment among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) here has improved slightly even though the outlook for sales and profits is still sluggish, according to a survey out yesterday.

The more sanguine mood generated a reading of 50.4 on a quarterly index compiled by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and DP Information Group, which is part of the Experian Group.

This was up 0.6 points or 1.2 per cent from the previous survey and indicates SMEs are expecting some growth in the next six months.

More than 3,600 SMEs were surveyed in January and February for the index, which measured sentiment about the April to September period.

All seven industry sectors surveyed improved their outlook, even if some gains were marginal.

The index showed turnover and profits are both expected to contract over the next six months. However, the rate of contraction is slowing.

SBF chief executive Ho Meng Kit said the numbers were a good sign, "aligned with the better outlook of the global economy and a more upbeat assessment of the Singapore economy for 2017".

"However, it is too early to say that the worst is behind us for the SME sector," he added.

"While there are some indications that SMEs are adapting to the changing economic climate and technological advances, we have not detected a firm trend of improvement."