Singaporean consumers more confident in first six months of 2017, after 2016's low: Survey

Pedestrians crossing at the junction of Orchard Link and Orchard Road .
Pedestrians crossing at the junction of Orchard Link and Orchard Road . ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans 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 on Friday (Aug 18).

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 2016 has pushed Singapore from pessimistic territory to neutral, the report said.

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

The survey also showed that overall consumer confidence across the Asia-Pacific region remained relatively optimistic, with 11 of the 18 markets surveyed recording greater optimism. The 4.2 point increase in confidence, 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 most optimistic in region.

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: "This has led a positive wealth effect."

He added that some sectors such as services, which accounts for two-thirds of employment here, have seen improvement. This in turn has had a knock-on effect on consumer confidence, he said.