Demand for exports boosts Singapore’s economy: ministry


Wed, May 27, 2015 - Page 15

Singapore’s economy grew more than initially estimated last quarter as demand for the city-state’s exports improved amid a recovery in the US.

GDP rose an annualized 3.2 percent in the three months through March from the previous quarter, the Singaporean Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement yesterday, compared with an estimate last month of 1.1 percent.

The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey was 2 percent.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the central bank, held back from further monetary policy easing last month and the trade ministry yesterday said global growth is expected to “improve marginally” this year.

“There isn’t a great impetus for easing,” said Vishnu Varathan, a Singapore-based economist at Mizuho Bank Ltd. “Things look slightly more upbeat. Oil prices are stabilizing higher and so I think the MAS will retain policy where it is, without further easing, unless we see a fresh and unexpected negative shock.”

Singapore’s economy expanded 2.6 percent in the first quarter from the previous year, after growing 2.1 percent in the previous three months, the trade ministry said. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey was for a 2.2 percent gain.

The government reiterated its forecast of 2 percent to 4 percent growth this year.

Tempering Singapore’s growth outlook is industrial production. Data released yesterday showed factory output last month fell the most since February 2013.

The MAS, which uses the Singaporean dollar to manage price pressure, said on April 14 it would maintain a modest and gradual appreciation of the local currency without adjusting the pace of its moves. The central bank unexpectedly eased monetary policy in January.

The monetary policy stance remains appropriate and unchanged, with no material change to the inflation outlook, MAS Deputy Managing Director Jacqueline Loh (羅惠燕) said at a briefing yesterday.

Consumer prices fell last month for a sixth straight month.

Singapore’s manufacturing rose 0.2 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months, compared with an initial estimate of a 2.3 percent drop.

Construction jumped 12.9 percent and services gained 2.1 percent.

Slower manufacturing gains were primarily due to a decline in the output of transport engineering, electronics and biomedical manufacturing, the ministry said.

Accommodation and food services were hurt by fewer visitors arriving, it said.

“Given the expected improvement in global economic conditions in 2015, externally-oriented sectors such as wholesale trade, and finance and insurance, are likely to see improved growth prospects,” the ministry said.