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NEWS UPDATES 31 July 2010

Singapore business sentiment down

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THE outlook in the key manufacturing and services sectors remained buoyant, but fewer companies are now upbeat about the future, in anticipation of slower growth in the second half of the year, two surveys released on Friday said and reported by The Straits Times.

The latest survey from the Economic Development Board showed that a weighted 25 per cent of manufacturers expect business conditions to improve from July to December, down from 34 per cent from the survey in April.

A weighted 7 percent of companies felt things would get worse in the second half of the year, up from 5 percent three months ago.

About 376 manufacturers were surveyed between May and June this year.

In the services sector, the weighted percentage of firms expecting a more positive outlook was down from 45 percent to 39 percent, said the survey from the Department of Statistics, which polled about 1,400 firms.

Compared to three months ago, more firms felt that things would stay the same, while slightly fewer firms said things would get worse.

Within manufacturing, firms in the electronics sector, which has seen a huge uptick in fortunes for the past half year, continued to stay the most positive about their future.

A weighted 43 percent of firms said things would get better, and another 45 per cent expect to increase their production for the third quarter with more export orders coming for the holiday season at the end of the year.

'The firms foresee orders being sustained by demand for consumer electronic products such as wireless handsets and mobile computing devices,' said the EDB.

A smaller 7 percent of manufacturers expect to hire workers in the second half of the year, compared to 10 percent three months ago.

Hiring is expected mainly in the electronics and precision engineering sectors.

OCBC economist Selena Ling said: 'We are seeing a more cautious tone. Certain sectors will be looking at a more modest pace of growth.

'Manufacturing is not going to be the main job creator going ahead, services is going to be, and we are really talking about financial and tourism in particular.'

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