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Expansion of Singapore’s private sector eases further in February

Staff Writer |
Slower expansions in output, new orders and hiring drove the headline Singapore PMI to its lowest level in four months.

Foreign sales also declined, while further stock depletion weighed on the index.

However, higher buying levels continued to be reported.

At the same time, the survey also found inflationary pressures to have subsided since the previous month.

Business sentiment remained negative.

At 51.4, marginally lower than 51.6 in January, the headline Nikkei Singapore Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) signalled an improvement in the health of Singapore’s private sector that was the weakest in four months.

Key drivers for the latest expansion were further growth in output and new orders, although both recorded slower rates of increase.

There was anecdotal evidence that promotional activities and, in some cases, bulk discounts supported demand.

Much of the headline expansion was underpinned by domestic demand as foreign orders for Singaporean products and services contracted in February after growing for the last five months.

Easing growth in activity and new business inflows alongside weak business sentiment prompted more cautious hiring.

Though staff headcounts were increased, the degree of growth was the smallest in three months.

Panellists highlighted that reduced hiring of part-time employees, staff resignations and retrenchments were the main reasons for the slower hiring.

Nonetheless, increased employment helped to bring the rate of backlog accumulation down to the lowest since May 2016.

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