Business sentiment picks up for 2nd straight quarter: Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – Business confidence among Singapore firms saw a slight uptick for the first quarter of 2021 but remained in the contractionary zone, according to a survey by the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB) on Wednesday (Dec 16).

Its business optimism index improved slightly for the second consecutive quarter to -1.03 percentage points in the first quarter of 2021 from -4.97 percentage points in the fourth quarter of this year. Year on year, the index dropped from +5.31 percentage points.

SCCB’s quarterly index measures business confidence in the economy by tracking six parameters: volume of sales, net profit, selling price, new orders, inventory levels and employee count.

The financial, manufacturing and services sectors saw visible improvements in sentiment, while the outlook within the construction and transportation sectors remained “downbeat”.

The financial sector was relatively upbeat, with all six indicators in positive territory. Manufacturing also remained relatively optimistic, with four out of six indicators in the positive zone. Indicators such as the volume of sales and net profit saw decreases.

SCCB said the services sector was moderately upbeat, with half of the six indicators in positive territory. Indicators such as the volume of sales and net profit saw slight drops, while employment levels dipped.

The construction sector was the most pessimistic sector, with all six indicators in the contractionary zone. However, visible improvements were seen in half of the indicators – the volume of sales, net profit and employment levels.

Sentiments in the transportation sector remained weak, with four out of six indicators in the negative zone.

SCCB chief executive Audrey Chia said: “While there is a slight upturn in business sentiments for the first quarter of 2021, the overall economy is not entirely out of the woods yet.”

SCCB expects sentiments to remain volatile for the first six months of 2021, she added.

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