SINGAPORE firms posted a slight deterioration in operating conditions in April, with the headline Nikkei Singapore purchasing managers' index (PMI) falling to 49.4 from March's 52.0.
This signalled a renewed decline in the health of the private sector, said Markit, the financial information services provider which compiles the index.
"Though only slight, it was the first time that operating conditions had deteriorated since May 2015," Markit added.
Output growth also slowed to a "marginal pace" - the slowest since September 2013 - as a drop in total new orders and softer market conditions stifled expansion.
Said Markit economist Annabel Fiddes: "Companies also recorded further falls in purchasing activity and employment - albeit marginal - while stocks of inputs declined markedly, indicating that expectations for growth in the coming months remain relatively muted.
"The data suggest new stimulus measures may need to be deployed to counteract sluggish growth, and weak inflationary pressures leave plenty of scope to do so."