Singapore's economic prospects have received a fresh blow as a key survey of business expectations points to a further deterioration in manufacturing conditions over the next six months. The latest snapshot caps a week of bad news in the city state and will stoke fears that the trade-dependent economy may be headed for a double-dip recession as external demand weakens. The Economic Development Board (EDB) said yesterday that its quarterly survey of business expectations showed that manufacturing sentiment had reversed for the fourth quarter as the recovery stalled. For the final three months of this year, a net 12 per cent of manufacturers expected conditions to worsen. Three months ago, in contrast, a net 10 per cent expected an improvement. 'Business sentiments in the manufacturing sector are considerably weaker in the next six months ending March 2003, compared to the third quarter of 2002,' the EDB said. Manufacturing accounts for about a quarter of Singapore's gross domestic product. 'This [reversal in sentiment] is mainly due to the global economic uncertainties, as well as the conflict between the US and Iraq,' it added. In the third-quarter the economy contracted 10.3 per cent compared with the preceding quarter, as the recovery ran out of steam. Most economists now expect full-year growth of 2 per cent to 3 per cent. Last year, GDP shrank 2 per cent, the worst showing since 1964. The EDB outlook is just the latest in a series of gloomy indicators. On Monday, data showed that industrial production slipped 7.1 per cent in September compared with August, while on Thursday the manpower ministry said the jobless rate had hit 4.8 per cent, a fresh 15-year high. Meanwhile, government ministers conceded that this year's rebound was 'narrowly based and uneven' and painted a gloomy forecast for the next six months. And a local chamber of commerce said this week that among its own members 'pessimism is the prevailing mood'. The EDB said yesterday that in the critical electronics sector, industrialists feared that sales and prices would continue to slump. 'In the computer industry most industrialists predict little improvement in the demand for personal computers up till the first quarter of 2002,' it said. 'For the semiconductor industry the industrialists foresee a delay in recovery and are expecting weak product prices to prevail.' Electronics accounts for about 63 per cent of Singapore's non-oil domestic exports. 'The employment outlook in the fourth quarter of 2002 is expected to remain weak, similar to a quarter ago,' the EDB said. 'Industries that foresee a reduction in workers include the info-comm products, precision engineering and transport engineering.'