Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore’s exports unexpectedly fell in September as weakening expansion in the world’s biggest economies eroded demand for electronics and petrochemicals.
Non-oil domestic exports fell 4.5 percent from a year earlier, after a revised 3.9 percent increase in August, the island’s trade promotion agency said in a statement today. The median of 11 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 3.5 percent gain.
Singapore lowered its growth forecast for 2011 last week and said the island’s expansion may slow further next year as the European debt crisis and a faltering U.S. recovery damp demand for goods made in Asia. China’s exports rose the least in seven months in September, while South Korean shipments climbed at the slowest pace in three months.
“We expect a rough patch ahead for the economy,” Irvin Seah, an economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Singapore, said before the report. “Against the backdrop of a deteriorating external outlook and judging from the broad-based decline in global purchasing managers’ indices, ex-biomedical manufacturing production will most likely continue to decline.”
Gross domestic product may increase 5 percent this year, compared with an earlier forecast range of 5 percent to 6 percent, the trade ministry said last week. The central bank said it will reduce the pace at which the currency strengthens and continue with a modest and gradual appreciation.
Electronics shipments by companies such as contract manufacturer Venture Corp. dropped 13.6 percent in September from a year earlier, after declining 19.4 percent the previous month.
“The electronics cluster is expected to remain weak due to the easing of global electronics demand,” the trade ministry said in an Oct. 14 statement.
Non-electronics shipments, which include petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, increased 0.9 percent. Petrochemicals exports dropped 8 percent, while pharmaceutical shipments climbed 12.5 percent after falling 7.1 percent in August.
The performance of Singapore’s pharmaceutical industry is volatile as production swings by companies such as Sanofi- Aventis SA can cause industrial output to fluctuate from month to month. Drug companies sometimes shut plants for cleaning before making different products.
Singapore’s non-oil exports dropped a seasonally adjusted 9.3 percent last month from August, when they rose a revised 7.2 percent, today’s report showed.
--Editors: Stephanie Phang, Lars Klemming
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