(Updates with peso in fifth paragraph.)
Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Philippine exports fell more than estimated in December as a weakening global economy hurt demand for the nation’s electronics products.
Shipments declined 20.7 percent from a year earlier to $3.3 billion after falling 19.4 percent in November, the National Statistics Office said in Manila today. The median of 10 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 17.4 percent drop. Overseas sales slid 6.9 percent last year, the biggest decline since 2009.
Asian exporters from Singapore to South Korea have suffered from the impact of Europe’s debt crisis, prompting Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to cut the benchmark interest rate last month, its first reduction since July 2009. Shipments abroad of Philippine-made goods such as Texas Instruments Inc. semiconductors account for about 20 percent of the economy.
“Demand for products throughout Asia might remain weak,” Emilio Neri, a Manila-based economist at Bank of the Philippine Islands, said before the report. The central bank “should consider cutting interest rates to support domestic demand,” as exports were a “major source of erosion” in growth for 2011, he said.
The peso snapped six days of gains, falling 0.1 percent to 42.28 per dollar as of 9:38 a.m. in Manila, according to Tullett Prebon Plc. The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange Composite Index dropped 0.3 percent.
The central bank still has monetary “policy space” to cut rates as the inflation outlook remains favorable, Governor Amando Tetangco said yesterday.
Electronics sales, which account for about half of Philippine exports, plunged 32.7 percent to $1.5 billion in December from a year earlier, today’s report showed.
Gross domestic product rose 3.7 percent in 2011, compared with a 7.6 percent gain a year earlier. President Benigno Aquino aims to grow the $200 billion economy by as much as 8 percent annually to boost incomes and reduce poverty.
--With assistance from Michael Munoz in Hong Kong. Editors: Rina Chandran, Patrick Harrington
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