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Singapore businesses less pessimistic, but still less confident than global peers: survey

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BUSINESS confidence in Singapore bounced back from a four-year low in the fourth quarter of 2015, but remains largely pessimistic and worse than global levels, according to the Global Economic Conditions Survey by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Management Accountants.

The survey's confidence index for Singapore recovered to between -55 and -60 in the fourth quarter from between -70 and -75 in the third quarter, where a negative score represents pessimism. The confidence index globally was between -20 and -30 in the fourth quarter.

About two-thirds, or 66 per cent, of Singapore companies said in the fourth quarter that they were less confident about prospects compared to three months earlier. The proportion of global companies with a similar response was just 44 per cent.

Falling orders were a source of concern for 38 per cent of Singapore companies, compared to 25 per cent worldwide.

China's slowdown has been a major source of concern for global businesses, the survey organisers said, noting that 40 per cent of businesses are scaling back investment plans and 52 per cent do not plan to raise headcounts.

Expectations of government stimulus are muted.

Faye Chua, head of business insight at ACCA, said: "There is a troubling long list of risks developing for the majority of global businesses. Many are already, unsurprisingly, reacting to falling opportunities by scaling back on capital and employment investments, which will, in turn, contribute to the further slowdown of the global economy. This, combined with the fact that many governments are having to cut back on spending means there are grounds for concern."