Manufacturing and services firms are slightly less optimistic about business prospects in the next six months, according to two surveys released yesterday.
The polls looked at expectations for the period from April to September.
Most manufacturing firms expect business conditions to stay similar to those in the first quarter of this year, with just a few of them believing prospects will improve.
This is down from a similar poll last year, which found a higher level of optimism.
The transport engineering cluster is the most upbeat within the manufacturing sector, while general manufacturing industries are the most pessimistic.
A net weighted balance of 1 per cent of manufacturing firms anticipate higher output compared with the first quarter, said the Economic Development Board, which carried out the survey.
Outlook on the jobs front was mixed.
The biomedical manufacturing cluster and the marine and offshore engineering segment both expect to employ more workers in this quarter than in the previous one.
But the electronics and general manufacturing firms project a smaller workforce this quarter.
The other survey, conducted by the Department of Statistics, found that most firms in the services sector expect business activity to remain the same in the next six months as it was in the first quarter.
Optimism has dropped since this time last year, but is up slightly on the outlook seen earlier this year.
The information and communications, wholesale trade, and financial and insurance industries had the rosiest view of the next six months.
The retail trade, transport and storage, and food and beverage services industries were the gloomiest.
The recreation, community and personal services, information and communications, and business services industries all expect to hire more in the next three months.
Firms in retail and food and beverage expect to hire less as they anticipate slower activity.