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Tue, Feb 18, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Singapore's exports rise 18.4 percent in January

BLOOMBERG , SINGAPORE

Singapore's exports grew six times faster than expected in January on a rebound in semiconductor shipments. ST Assembly & Test Services Ltd, the world's No. 4 chip tester, led a rally in the city's stocks.

Non-oil domestic exports rose 18.4 percent from a year earlier to S$9.5 billion (US$5.4 billion), the government said. That compares with a 4.4 percent gain in December, and expectations of a 3.2 percent rise, according to the median forecast of seven economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

The unexpected surge in exports may help sustain Singapore's US$84 billion economy, which expanded just 0.1 percent in the final quarter of last year. The government is targeting the economy to grow 5 percent this year, from 2.2 percent last year.

"The electronics sector beat expectations because industrial production in the US turned for the better," said Sailesh Jha, senior economist with DBS Group Holdings Ltd.

STMicroelectronics NV Chief Executive Officer Pasquale Pistorio, whose company has three chip factories in Singapore, said last month he expects a "real recovery" in 2003, and first quarter sales would rise 24 percent from the year-ago period.

Exports to the US, the island's biggest overseas market, rose 12 percent from a year ago, after shrinking 2.4 percent in December. The government said electronics exports rose 7.3 percent last month as shipments of semiconductors expanded 37 percent.

The Straits Times Index rose 2.1 percent to 1,302.03 as it resumed trading after the lunch break.

Electronics exports had slid 2.2 percent in December and fallen 3.2 percent last year, a second year of decline.

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