Singapore business sentiment dips after rising for three quarters



The overall index eased from +10.58 percentage points for Q3 2018 - a three-year high - to 9.19 percentage points for Q4 2018.
The overall index eased from +10.58 percentage points for Q3 2018 - a three-year high - to 9.19 percentage points for Q4 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Business sentiment has moderated slightly for the upcoming final quarter of 2018, ending the rising trend of the preceding three quarters, according to the latest quarterly Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau's Business Optimism Index released on Tuesday (Sept 11).

The overall index eased from +10.58 percentage points for Q3 2018 - a three-year high - to 9.19 percentage points for Q4 2018. Compared to a year ago, however, this was nonetheless up significantly from +2.60 percentage points for Q4 2017.

The figures, derived from a survey of 200 business owners and senior executives, represent the net percentage of respondents expecting improvements in the coming quarter compared to the same time last year.

An expansionary Q4 outlook was seen for five out of six indicators: sales volume, net profits, new orders, inventory and employment. The selling price index slipped into contraction at -0.98 percentage point, compared to +4.5 percentage points for Q3 2018.

Compared to Q3 2018, only two of the indicators - sales volume and net profits - were higher for Q4 2018. However, all indicators except selling prices were better than for the same period a year ago.

Services and manufacturing remained the most optimistic business sectors, with all six indicators showing positive outlook. In manufacturing, sales volumes, net profits, new orders and inventory levels were up compared to the previous quarter, while selling price and employment levels were lower. Services saw declines in most indicators, with only employment remaining unchanged.

Construction, in contrast, remained downbeat with only sales volume and net profits in the expansionary zone. The transportation sector's outlook has also moderated, with net profit, selling price and inventory levels entering contraction.