More businesses here are expecting a favourable business environment in the second half of the year.

In the manufacturing sector, a net weighted balance of 8 per cent of manufacturers anticipate things to be looking up in the six months to December.

The net weighted balance, used to reflect the direction and depth of business sentiments, is the difference between those in the sector with a positive outlook and those with a negative one.

An Economic Development Board (EDB) report yesterday noted that a weighted 13 per cent of manufacturers expect business conditions to improve, while a weighted 5 per cent foresee deterioration in the second half of this year.

Despite the upbeat outlook, manufacturers continue to worry about the global macroeconomic environment.

Within manufacturing, the general manufacturing industries cluster is the most optimistic; a net weighted balance of 17 per cent of firms see the business situation improving in the second half of this year, more positive than they were a quarter ago.

The food, beverages and tobacco segment anticipates higher festive orders in the next six months, while the miscellaneous industries segment expects continued support from domestic construction.

The precision engineering and electronic clusters also expect better business conditions in the coming six months.

In the precision engineering cluster, a net weighted balance of 11 per cent of firms expect more orders ahead. This positive sentiment was recorded in the semiconductor-related equipment and machine tools industries.

In the electronics cluster, a net weighted 8 per cent of firms expect better business prospects in the second half of 2013. In this cluster, the semiconductor segment is the most upbeat, as it expects a bigger uptick in orders than in the second quarter of 2013.

A net weighted balance of 5 per cent of manufacturers expect output to increase in the third quarter of this year. All, except those in the biomedical manufacturing cluster, foresee higher production in the next three months.

Firms in services are also generally more upbeat about the second half of the year. An overall net weighted balance of 9 per cent of firms in this sector expect positive business prospects in the second half, compared to the January-to-June period, the Department of Statistics reported yesterday.

This is higher than the positive net weighted balances of 6 per cent of service firms registered for the April-to-September 2013 period, and the 2 per cent clocked for July-to-December 2012.

In the services sector, all except the real estate industry and financial & insurance industry expect positive business prospects for the second half of the year.

The accommodation industry is the most optimistic, with a net weighted balance of 43 per cent of firms being upbeat.

Hoteliers cited higher occupancy for the upcoming Formula 1 event in September and the year-end festive period as reasons for their positive sentiments.

Firms in the real estate sector expect slower business in the coming months, mainly on the back of the recent introduction of cooling measures by the government.

For the July-to-September period, a net weighted balance of 11 per cent of firms in the services sector expect revenue to increase over the preceding quarter, higher than the 8 per cent registered for the second quarter.

All service-sector industries, except the retail industry and real estate industry, predict business revenue to go up in the third quarter.

Employment prospects also remain positive. In the manufacturing sector, a weighted 97 per cent of manufacturers expect employment level to rise or at least hold steady in the third quarter.

The general manufacturing industries and the biomedical manufacturing clusters are the most optimistic about employment opportunities in the three months ahead. A net weighted balance of 8 per cent of firms in the services sector foresee a rise in employment level.

Firms in the accommodation and financial & insurance industries are among the most optimistic in terms of hiring, with net weighted balances of 20 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.