Business

Confidence in economy up from six months ago

Singapore residents most optimistic in stock market, followed by economy


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.

  • The Mastercard Index of Consumer Confidence score for the first half of the year is a 15.4-point uptick from the second half of last year, as Singapore residents showed more confidence in the economy.

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.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

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 per cent to 3 per cent, from an earlier estimate of 1 per cent to 3 per cent.

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

"This has led a positive wealth effect," Mr Seah said.

He added 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.

The survey also showed that overall consumer confidence across the Asia-Pacific region remained 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 most optimistic in region.

The most optimistic market in the region remains Cambodia, which scored 93.1 points despite a 0.7-point decline.

Sri Lanka (38.2) was the least optimistic.

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