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Economy grew at 4.1% in 2013

Singapore's economy expanded 4.1 per cent last year, up from 1.9 per cent in 2012, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said yesterday.

The figure exceeded official flash estimates released last month of 3.7 per cent growth and beat the forecasts this week of several economists, who had tipped an expansion of between 3.9 and 4 per cent.

The economy's better-than-expected performance was boosted by a 5.5 per cent expansion in the fourth quarter of last year over the year before, as manufacturing activity grew 7 per cent in the period, MTI said.

Services industries grew 5.9 per cent in the October to December quarter from a year ago, lifted by growth in wholesale and retail trade, transport and storage and finance and insurance. The construction sector expanded 4.8 per cent in the quarter over the previous year.

For the whole of last year, Singapore's manufacturing sector grew 1.7 per cent, up from 0.3 per cent in 2012, on the back of stronger showings from the transport engineering and electronics segments, said the ministry.

The services sector also picked up pace last year, expanding 5.3 per cent compared with the 2 per cent growth logged in 2012. This was mainly due to growth in financial services and wholesale and retail trade.

Construction was the only sector to buck the trend. It grew 5.9 per cent last year, down from 8.6 per cent the year before, due to a slowdown in both public and private sector building activity.

MTI added that the overall economy is expected to grow between 2 and 4 per cent this year, keeping to its earlier forecast, highlighting that the tight labour market may continue to weigh on growth.