Manufacturers slightly upbeat, service firms gloomy: Surveys

The EDB poll found that a net weighted balance of 2 per cent of manufacturers (above) expect more favourable conditions over this January to June period, compared with the fourth quarter of last year. The Department of Statistics survey showed that fi
The EDB poll found that a net weighted balance of 2 per cent of manufacturers (above) expect more favourable conditions over this January to June period, compared with the fourth quarter of last year. The Department of Statistics survey showed that firms in the accommodation and food and beverage services industries expect slower business in this period.PHOTOS: ST FILE, MARK CHEONG
The EDB poll found that a net weighted balance of 2 per cent of manufacturers expect more favourable conditions over this January to June period, compared with the fourth quarter of last year. The Department of Statistics survey showed that firms in the a
The EDB poll found that a net weighted balance of 2 per cent of manufacturers expect more favourable conditions over this January to June period, compared with the fourth quarter of last year. The Department of Statistics survey showed that firms in the accommodation (above) and food and beverage services industries expect slower business in this period.PHOTOS: ST FILE, MARK CHEONG

Manufacturers are slightly more upbeat about business prospects for this half of the year but service firms are gloomier, according to two separate surveys out yesterday.

An Economic Development Board (EDB) poll found that a net weighted balance of 2 per cent of manufacturers expect more favourable conditions over the January to June period, compared with the fourth quarter of 2016.

The net weighted balance is the difference between the percentage of firms that expect improvement and those that expect conditions to worsen. Individual responses are weighted by their contribution to employment and value added.

There was a 96 per cent response rate from the 432 manufacturers surveyed. Most of those polled (a weighted 76 per cent) expect conditions in this half of 2017 to remain similar to the preceding quarter.

The electronics cluster is the most optimistic within the manufacturing sector, with a net weighted balance of 26 per cent of firms anticipating better business conditions.

This optimism is driven largely by the semiconductor segment, which expects improved market conditions to continue into 2017.

Meanwhile, the Department of Statistics survey of the service sector found a net weighted balance of 14 per cent of firms expect less favourable business conditions in this half, compared with the second half of last year. This is less optimistic than the net weighted balance of 8 per cent of firms expecting less favourable business conditions registered in the previous quarter's survey.

About 1,500 services companies across various sectors were polled.

Within services, firms in the accommodation and food and beverage service industries were among the most downbeat and expect slower business in this period following the year-end holidays.

Transport and storage industry companies are also pessimistic. A net weighted balance of 43 per cent fear business will worsen in the six months to June 30. In particular, shipping lines expect the slower global economy and weaker consumer demand will hit cargo volumes.

Real estate companies were also downbeat, blaming property cooling measures and the uncertain economic outlook for weak demand. A net weighted balance of 39 per cent said they expect less favourable business conditions in this half.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2017, with the headline 'Manufacturers slightly upbeat, service firms gloomy: Surveys'. Print Edition | Subscribe