SINGAPORE - Business optimism plunged to near contractionary levels this quarter, after two consecutive quarters of increase previously.
Research firm Dun & Bradstreet's latest Business Optimism Index (BOI), conducted every quarter, showed that the percentage of companies expecting higher profits and sales volumes has fallen over the previous quarter.
The survey polled 200 business owners and senior executives across six Asean nations representing major industry sectors on six indicators of optimism: expectations of upcoming quarterly sales, profits, employment, new orders, inventories and selling prices.
Firms here recorded a BOI of 0.1 percentage points this quarter, down from 15 percentage points the quarter before.
The index is obtained by subtracting the percentage of pessimistic firms from the percentage of optimistic firms.
The latest BOI reading is the second lowest in nearly three years when it hit a historical low of -0.82 percentage point in the first quarter of 2013.
"The outlook for local manufacturers has been particularly bleak for the most part of 2015 in light of a slowdown in manufacturing activities both globally and regionally," said Audrey Chia, chief executive of Dun & Bradstreet Singapore. "There has been a general decline in optimism levels across most sectors, even in the more optimistic construction and services sectors."