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Wed, May 18, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Singapore reduces economic forecast for this year


The Singapore government yesterday cut its economic growth forecast for this year from 3.0-5.0 percent to 2.5-4.5 percent after a weaker-than-expected performance in the first quarter.

Figures released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry showed GDP in the March quarter grew 2.5 percent from a year ago, better than official preliminary estimates of 2.4 percent but the weakest rate since the third quarter of 2003.

It was also much slower than the 6.5 percent expansion registered in the December quarter.

"In view of the first quarter's weaker-than-expected economic performance, it would be unrealistic to maintain the official forecast range of 3.0-5.0 percent," Friedrich Wu, director of the ministry's economics division, said at a media briefing.

"Such a growth rate would be difficult to achieve, especially in the second quarter when year-on-year growth must be compared with a very high base of 12.3 percent in the second quarter of last year."

For the first-quarter GDP numbers, the government said the slowdown was largely due to a sharp moderation in manufacturing, which accounts for almost a quarter of Singapore's US$109 billion economy.

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