Singapore first-quarter GDP expands at faster pace on stronger manufacturing

By Masayuki Kitano

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s economy grew faster than initially estimated in the first quarter as manufacturing and services sectors showed more resilience, boding well for the city-state’s economic growth outlook this year.

The trade-reliant economy expanded an annualized and seasonally adjusted 3.2 percent in the January-March quarter from the previous three months, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said on Tuesday.

That far exceeded the 1.1 percent expansion in the government’s advance estimate released in April, and beat a Reuters poll forecast for 1.8 percent growth.

From a year earlier, GDP grew 2.6 percent in the first quarter. The government’s advance estimate had been 2.1 percent, while economists expected growth of 2.2 percent.

Growth in services-producing industries was revised up to 3.8 percent year on year from the advance estimate of 3.1 percent.

Manufacturing activity shrank 2.7 percent from a year earlier, but that was still an upward revision from a 3.4 percent contraction in the advance estimate.

The ministry said the economy was likely to grow at a modest pace this year, and maintained its 2015 growth forecast of 2-4 percent.

“Given the expected improvement in global economic conditions in 2015, externally-oriented sectors such as wholesale trade and finance & insurance are likely to see improved growth prospects. However, sector-specific factors could weigh on the growth of some sectors,” the ministry said.

The higher rate of expansion was a hopeful sign for Singapore’s economy, after growth slowed last year to 2.9 percent, the slowest since a 0.6 percent contraction in 2009.

Lackluster exports have weighed on growth in Singapore, a country whose annual trade in goods and services amounts to about 3.5 times the size of its economy.

IE Singapore said non-oil domestic exports rose 4.8 percent in January-March from a year earlier, and kept its forecast for NODX growth in 2015 unchanged at 1.0-3.0 percent.

(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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