SINGAPORE firms signalled a further improvement in overall operating conditions in July, according to the Nikkei Singapore purchasing managers' index (PMI) released on Wednesday.
The headline PMI was at 51.3 in July - up slightly from June's 51.1. This marked the second successive monthly improvement in the health of Singapore's private sector.
A reading above 50 signals improved business conditions in Singapore, while one below that shows deterioration.
Still, the rate of improvement remained modest overall, and slower than the series average, according to Markit (the financial information services provider which compiles the index).
Said Annabel Fiddes, an economist at Markit: "Private sector companies in Singapore signalled a further robust expansion in output at the start of the third quarter, which in turn contributed to the first increase in staff numbers for five months.
"However, client demand remains relatively muted, with total new work and new export business both declining slightly in July. Unless customer demand starts to show signs of reviving, this could weigh on overall growth of the sector in the coming months."
The Nikkei Singapore PMI covers a wider range of sectors and more companies than an existing PMI compiled by the Singapore Institute of Purchasing & Materials Management (SIPMM). The latter covers only the manufacturing sector.
SIPMM's manufacturing PMI reverted to contraction mode in July, slipping 0.7 point to 49.7 after rising for two straight months.