Businesses more bearish in Q3: survey

By Cheryl Tay:

Many companies in Singapore have displayed a discouraging business outlook as activity weakened further in Q3, revealed the latest Business Times-UniSIM Business Climate Survey.

According to the survey, which was released ahead of the final Q3 GDP report due this Friday, more companies saw contractions in sales and new orders in Q3. And although fewer firms saw their profits fall during the quarter, more suffered bigger profit declines.

In addition, 165 companies polled in October stated that business conditions deteriorated in Q3 compared to Q2, with the economy shrinking 1.5 percent in Q3 on a quarter-on-quarter annualised basis, said the official advance estimate. This meant that the GDP only grew 1.3 percent in Q3 compared to the same period last year.

However, economists predict that the advance estimate due this Friday may be revised downwards because of weaker than expected industrial and trade production data for September.

Amidst that backdrop, 59 percent of the firms polled expect a gloomier business outlook for the six months till March 2013 and 10 percent believe that things could get "much worse". In contrast, only 28 percent said that things will remain "unchanged," while only 14 percent stated that business prospects could become "better".

Survey Director Chow Kit Boey commented that "pessimism rose irrespective of firm size and ownership."

Given that over 50 percent of the respondents are engaged in businesses abroad, the survey also showed more pessimism regarding the business outlook in other countries. "Probably as a result of the euro crisis and weaker business conditions in the US and China," added Chow.

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