Business

February exports exceed expectations

Singapore's non-oil domestic exports expand 21.5%, easily beating 12.5% forecast

Singapore's export recovery has grown even stronger, with data for last month surpassing expectations and dispelling fears.

It marked the fourth straight month of resurgent export figures as manufacturers spent on capital and global growth picked up.

Last month's 21.5 per cent growth in non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) easily beat a consensus forecast of a 12.5 per cent gain.

Electronics and non-electronics exports drove the gains.

Shipments to all of Singapore's top 10 markets rose.

A turnaround in global electronics led by semiconductor demand for smartphone production should boost manufacturing this year, Citi economist Kit Wei Zheng said.

Brisker global trade has fuelled a recovery in local manufacturing.

But the service sector, which accounts for about two-thirds of Singapore's economy, lags behind.

There are signs of green shoots in the local transport and storage sector, which grew 5.4 per cent in the fourth quarter year on year.

Healthier manufacturing growth could spill over into financial and business services this quarter as domestic business loan growth and regional financing start to increase.

Electronics Nodx surged 17.2 per cent in a fourth month of gains, led by shipments of integrated circuits, PC parts and disk media products.

Non-electronics Nodx jumped by 23.3 per cent last month, up from a 9.8 per cent expansion in January, the IE Singapore data showed.

"Petrochemicals, specialised machinery and non-monetary gold expanded by 45.3 per cent, 111.8 per cent and 104.3 per cent, respectively, contributing the most to the rise in non-electronics Nodx," IE Singapore said.

Of the biggest markets, China surged 65.1 per cent, the European Union rose 28.7 per cent and Taiwan jumped 54 per cent.

But Nomura economists Euben Paracuelles and Brian Tan said in a note: "We expect Nodx growth to moderate as we do not expect the surge in gold exports to sustain.

"We believe the economy is still on weak footing, and remains vulnerable to the threat of protectionist policies in the US."

gleong@sph.com.sg

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