DJ - Singapore 4Q GDP Growth Surge Even Stronger Than First Estimated

By Saurabh Chaturvedi

SINGAPORE--Singapore's economic growth spurt in the fourth quarter was sharper than first estimated, powered by an upswing in manufacturing, a robust service sector and stronger external demand.

The economy expanded 12.3% from the previous quarter on a seasonally adjusted and annualized basis in the October-to-December period, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement Friday. That was a faster pace of expansion than an initial estimate of 9.1%, helping push growth for the year to 2.0%, well above the 1.5% upper range of a government forecast for 2016.

Compared with a year earlier, the island nation's economy grew 2.9% in the fourth quarter, compared with a prior growth estimate of 1.8%.

The figures offered an encouraging sign of recent strength in the economy, although softness in the previous quarter also gave the rebound a flattering sheen.

The government is sticking to a relatively cautious forecast of 1% to 3% growth in 2017 as uncertainties continue to cloud the economic outlook.

Like many export-dependent nations in Asia, Singapore is closely monitoring the policy direction of U.S. President Donald Trump. While a stronger U.S. economy should fuel global demand, a protectionist stance could stunt international trade just as it starts to show signs of improvement.

The revised data showed that a surge in manufacturing was among the main factors lifting the pace of growth, helped by strength in electronics and the volatile pharmaceutical sector. Manufacturing expanded a revised 39.8% from the previous quarter, compared with an earlier estimate of 14.6%, the data showed.

The services sector, accounting for more than two-thirds of Singapore's GDP, grew a revised 8.4% in the quarter from an advance estimate of 9.4% growth. The revised data indicated that the construction sector grew 0.8% over the fourth quarter compared with an initial reading of a 4.7% fall.

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