Consumer confidence rebounds in Singapore

15.4-point rise in first half-year is the first increase after three declines in a row

Singapore residents were significantly more optimistic about the economy in the first half of this year, after consumer confidence hit a seven-year low last year, going by survey findings released yesterday.

According to the Mastercard Index of Consumer Confidence, where zero indicates the most pessimism and 100 the most optimism, Singapore scored 45.4 points for the first half of this year.

The 15.4-point uptick from the second half of last year has pushed Singapore from pessimistic territory to neutral, the report said.

It is an improvement on the previous score, the lowest since June 2009, which was linked to stagnating global demand and a poor outlook on the labour market.

The score for the second half of last year was also the third decline in a row, after a four-year high of 65.3 points in the first half of 2015.

The latest survey was conducted between April and June this year, with 9,153 respondents in 18 Asia-Pacific markets polled on their six-month outlook on the economy, employment prospects, regular income prospects, the stock market and quality of life.

Compared with the second half of last year, Singaporeans were more optimistic on all five factors, with confidence improving most in the stock market, followed by the economy, then employment prospects.

  • 45.4

    Number of points Singapore scored for consumer confidence in the first half of this year, a 15.4-point uptick from the second half of last year.

Ms Deborah Heng, country manager for Mastercard Singapore, said the improvement here - the largest across South-east Asia - is an encouraging sign that "consumer confidence in Singapore has picked up, having seen a steady decline over the last two years".

DBS senior economist Irvin Seah said Mastercard's latest findings can be attributed to a more positive global outlook and Singapore's own "fairly good" economic growth.

Last week, the Ministry of Trade and Industry narrowed its forecast range for economic growth this year to 2 to 3 per cent, from an earlier estimate of 1 to 3 per cent.

The economy also expanded 2.9 per cent in the April to June quarter, compared with the same period a year earlier.

Mr Seah said that the services sector, which accounts for two-thirds of employment here, has seen improvement. This, in turn, has had a knock-on effect on consumer confidence, he said.

The survey also showed that consumer confidence across the Asia- Pacific region was relatively optimistic, with 11 of the 18 markets surveyed reporting greater optimism.

The 4.2-point increase in confidence for the region, to 66.9 points, was driven by a bullish outlook on the stock market and employment prospects, the survey said.

Declines were recorded in eight markets, with the biggest drops in India (-9.3 points) and Myanmar (-6 points), though their overall performance still puts their consumers among the region's most optimistic.

The most optimistic market remains Cambodia, which scored 93.1 points despite a 0.7-point decline. Sri Lanka (38.2) was the least optimistic.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'Consumer confidence rebounds in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe