Almost a third of firms are very pessimistic.
Business outlook in the manufacturing sector deteriorated further in the latest business expectations survey by the Economic Development Board (EDB).
The survey showed that almost one in three firms, or 29% of respondents, expect business conditions to deteriorate in the first half 2016. Only 7% of manufacturers expect business conditions to improve in the next months.
This means that 22% of manufacturers forecast a less favourable business climate from January to June, compared to just 16% in the fourth quarter of 2015.
The weak business sentiment is broad-based, with almost all clusters foreseeing a decline in business situation in the next six months. The exception is the biomedical manufacturing cluster, where a net weighted balance of 17% of firms anticipate a positive business outlook ahead.
A net weighted balance of 31% of manufacturers expects output to decrease in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the fourth quarter of 2015.
Hiring expectations in the manufacturing sector are expected to be weak in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the fourth quarter of 2015. A weighted 5 per cent of manufacturers plan to hire more workers while a weighted 11 per cent expects to reduce the number of workers employed.
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