Singapore consumers end year on more upbeat note but confidence is brittle: Survey

The latest edition of a consumer confidence survey shows Singaporeans to be nervously more upbeat at the year's close.
The latest edition of a consumer confidence survey shows Singaporeans to be nervously more upbeat at the year's close.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The latest edition of a consumer confidence survey shows Singaporeans to be nervously more upbeat at the year's close.

On the bright side, the ANZ-Roy Morgan Singapore Consumer Confidence Index rose 1/3 points month-on-month to 126.5 in December. The index is is now clearly above its long-term average of 123.7 and 4.7 points higher than the same time a year ago.

But a closer look at the sub-inddices show up the lingering gloom over the future.

- In terms of personal finances, 29 per cent of respondents - less than half - said their families are better off financially than a year ago, with 8 per cent saying they are worse off.

- Looking ahead, 32 per cent said they expect their family to be better off financially in a year's time - equalling the lowest result recorded for this indicator since February 2015. - Exactly half of respondents expect Singapore to have good times financially over the next 12 months - the equal lowest response recorded for this indicator since April 2015. Eleven per cent (unchanged from November) expect bad times financially.

Said Glenn Maguire, ANZ chief economist for South Asia, Asean & Pacific: "Though Singaporean consumer confidence increased in December, the underlying details of the index paint a mixed picture of changeable and brittle sentiment drivers. This is consistent with an economy where both the external and domestic environments have dragged the Singaporean economy down to near technical-recession. The recovery in the economy in 2016 remains dependent on a highly uncertain trade and external outlook."

Mr Maguire said the two most notable areas of weakness in the survey responses were the assessment of personal finances and the 12 month outlook for whether Singapore would have good times financially.

He added that the deterioration in these two questions has been borne out by recent real data such as falling retail sales which exclude car sales.

"Our final consumer confidence index reading for Singapore suggests that 2016 will be no less a challenging year for the Singaporean consumer," he said.