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S'pore firms upbeat about business outlook in Q1

Singapore firms remain upbeat about their business outlook in the first quarter of this year, though confidence has eased after a sharp increase in overall optimism levels in the fourth quarter of last year.

SINGAPORE: Singapore firms remain upbeat about their business outlook in the first quarter of this year, though confidence has eased after a sharp increase in overall optimism levels in the fourth quarter of last year.

According to Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau's latest Business Optimism Index (BOI) study, all six business indicators have remained in the expansionary region. These include sales, profits, employment, new orders, inventories and selling prices.

But local firms are still cautious about their business expectations, despite the upbeat sentiment resulting mainly from a strengthening external demand. Business expectations have plateaued from +33.98 percentage points in the fourth quarter of last year to +13.13 percentage points this quarter.

For the first quarter of 2014, local firms have expressed the most optimism in volume of sales and net profits. This was followed by inventory levels and employment. Businesses are least optimistic about selling prices, which showed only a modest improvement in optimism levels.

Among the various sectors, the wholesale, transportation and services sectors are the most optimistic.

The accommodation and food services sectors are also anticipating higher business receipts from the annual Lunar New Year festivities in the first quarter of 2014.

Meanwhile, the transportation sector is likely to benefit from an increasing demand for private transportation services as well as the operation and maintenance of roads, bridges and expressways.

The mining sector is the least optimistic sector as the industry has anticipated a status quo in volume of sales, net profits, selling price and employment as well as a decline in inventory levels. 

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