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Singapore manufacturers' expectations of future conditions turn marginally negative

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Singapore manufacturers as a whole expect business conditions to be worse for the second half of this year - but only by the slightest of margins compared to when they were polled last quarter.

SINGAPORE manufacturers as a whole expect business conditions to be worse for the second half of this year - but only by the slightest of margins compared to when they were polled last quarter.

A net weighted balance - or the difference between the weighted percentages of those optimistic and pessimistic - of one per cent of manufacturers see less favourable conditions from July to December this year, said the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB) in a release on Friday.

This is the result of a vast majority, or 77 per cent, seeing conditions remaining the same, 12 per cent of them seeing worsening and 11 per cent seeing better conditions.

These manufacturers were polled by EDB in June and July. Out of a total of 432 manufacturing establishments surveyed, 95 per cent responded.

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These results for the third quarter of this year did not vary much from the previous quarter. Then, manufacturers reported a net weighted balance of one per cent seeing conditions improving between April to September of 2016.

For this quarter, precision engineering is the most optimistic cluster, with a balance of 10 per cent seeing brighter months ahead. This contrasts with the balance of 27 per cent reported last quarter that saw better conditions.

The electronics and biomedical clusters, at balances of 6 and 4 per cent respectively, are the other two clusters that are optimistic on the whole.

Pessimism is deepest in the chemicals cluster among those polled this quarter at a net weighted balance of 19 per cent. Transport engineering followed suit at 11 per cent, and general manufacturing at 8 per cent.

At the same time, manufacturers expect to produce less and hire fewer people in the third quarter ending September when compared to the previous quarter, while a majority were sanguine about their ability to export.

EDB said a net weighted balance of 9 per cent of manufacturers expect output to decrease in the third quarter, while a balance of 12 per cent will hire fewer workers. A weighted 67 per cent of firms reported no limiting factors that will affect their ability to obtain direct export orders in Q3.

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