Business sentiment for Q4 dips

Business sentiment has moderated slightly for the final quarter of this year, ending a rising trend in the preceding three quarters, the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau's latest quarterly Business Optimism Index, released yesterday, showed.

The overall index eased from +10.58 percentage points for the third quarter - a three-year high - to 9.19 percentage points for the fourth quarter. Compared with a year ago, however, this was up significantly from +2.6 percentage points for the fourth quarter last year.

The figures, derived from a survey of 200 business owners and senior executives, represent the net percentage of respondents expecting improvements in the coming quarter.

An expansionary fourth-quarter outlook was seen for five out of six indicators: sales volume, net profits, new orders, inventory and employment. The selling price index slipped into contraction at -0.98 percentage point, compared with +4.5 percentage points for the third quarter.

Compared with the third quarter, only two of the indicators - sales volume and net profits - were higher for the fourth quarter. However, all indicators except selling prices were better than for the same period a year ago.

Services and manufacturing remained the most optimistic business sectors, with positive outlooks for all six indicators.

In manufacturing, sales volume, net profits, new orders and inventory levels were up compared with the previous quarter, while selling price and employment levels were lower. Services saw declines in most indicators, with only employment remaining unchanged.

Construction remained downbeat with only sales volume and net profits in the expansionary zone. The transportation sector's outlook has moderated, with net profit, selling price and inventory levels entering contraction. - THE STRAITS TIMES