Singapore business confidence weakens for Q2

Confidence among local firms remains down with modest expectations for the second quarter.

A quarterly index that measures business confidence indicates that optimism is muted.

The score of +7.19 percentage points for the first quarter of this year has slipped to +5.08 percentage points for the second.

That is also well down on the +8.50 percentage points recorded for the second quarter last year.

The figures come from a survey of 200 business owners and senior executives by the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB) and were released yesterday. The numbers are crunched to yield the net percentage of respondents expecting improvements in the coming quarter, compared with the same period last year.

The financial and service sectors have emerged as the most optimistic for the second quarter, thanks largely to robust demand in the insurance area, the SCCB said.

Expectations for construction continue to lift with three indicators - sales volume, inventory levels and jobs - in positive territory.

But the manufacturing and wholesale sectors indicate increased pessimism.

The SCCB noted that manufacturing gloom is due in part to an expected slowdown in electronics and precision engineering.

WEAKER EXTERNAL DEMAND

The moderation in business sentiments for the next quarter should come as no surprise in the light of weaker external demand, which has impacted both wholesale trade and manufacturing sectors.

SCCB CHIEF EXECUTIVE AUDREY CHIA

Likewise, sentiment in the wholesale sector took a turn for the worse on the back of a weaker performance in the wholesale trade of machinery and equipment.

SCCB chief executive Audrey Chia said: "The moderation in business sentiments for the next quarter should come as no surprise in the light of weaker external demand, which has impacted both wholesale trade and manufacturing sectors.

"This is further exacerbated by the chain effects of a slowdown in China, which has led to a moderated outlook within the region.

"However, the service and financial sectors will remain key drivers of growth for the first half of 2019."

Ms Chia added that she expects to stay "relatively positive", given the recent Budget moves to help firms innovate and remain adaptable.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore business confidence weakens for Q2'. Print Edition | Subscribe