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Singapore business confidence for Q3 up, but shaky

Transportation sector is most upbeat, and financial sector, the gloomiest

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Business confidence in Singapore improved for a second straight quarter, but sentiment is still shaky among certain sectors, a private-sector survey has found.

Singapore

BUSINESS confidence in Singapore improved for a second straight quarter, but sentiment is still shaky among certain sectors, a private-sector survey has found.

Notably, the respondents think they can sell more and rake in more profits over the next few months, after having expected dismal performances in this and the last quarter.

The Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB) Business Optimism Index (BOI) survey, conducted every quarter, polls 200 business owners and senior executives on whether they expect increases, decreases or no changes in six areas (such as sales, profits and employment) in the coming quarter.

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Their responses on their expectations for the third quarter were collected in late May for this survey, the findings of which were released on Tuesday.

The latest survey's patchy outlook for Q3 2017 comes on the heels of the Singapore economy reporting uneven growth for Q1 2017.

The transportation sector reported the strongest optimism overall, and the manufacturing sector was also upbeat.

The financial sector was the most pessimistic; none of the six indicators were in positive territory for this sector. Construction reported only two positive indicators.

The figures used in the survey represent the difference between the percentage of respondents expecting a better performance in the coming quarter and those who expect it to worsen.

The overall optimism index for Q3 stands at 3.58 percentage points. This was better than the 1.11 reported for Q3 2016, the 2.66 for Q2 2017, and the -1.22 for Q1 2017.

Optimism about the volume of sales and net profits both rebounded from contractionary territory to mark strong improvements for Q3 2017.

The index for volume of sales was at 5.5 percentage points for Q3, versus -1.41 for Q2 and -5.33 for Q3 last year. For profits, it was at five percentage points for Q3 this year, versus -0.47 for Q2 and -1.33 for a year ago.

The transportation sector made a marked improvement in sentiment. For Q3 2017, all six indicators were in positive territory, compared to only one for Q2. Volume of sales in this sector rebounded from -7.69 percentage points for Q2 to 16.67 for Q3. The employment indicator, at -23.07 for Q2, jumped to 8.33 for Q3.

The manufacturing sector was also sanguine about Q3, with three indicators in positive territory compared to two for Q2.

In the downbeat financial sector, two indicators - volume of sales and net profits - showed signs of improvement for Q3 2017 from -13.33 for Q2. However, they managed only to reach zero, meaning that as many business owners think these two indicators would improve in Q3 as those who expect them to worsen.

In the construction sector, only two indicators moved into positive territory. Volume of sales and net profit increased from -21.43 percentage points for Q2 2017 to a positive 7.14 for Q3.

The SCCB is a private-sector firm that runs a database of local enterprises and their credit history.

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